Last year, Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways and Shipping, had claimed that Asha Parekh had been "chasing" him for a Padma Bhushan. Now, the veteran cine star and Padma Shri awardee has mentioned in her just published memoir, The Hit Girl, that meeting with the minister was the "worst mistake" of her life.
To put Parekh's comments into context, Nitin Gadkari had said at an event in Nagpur that she had come to him seeking his recommendation for the Padma Bhushan and claiming that she was entitled to it. According to a report in the Hindustan Times, Gadkari had said, "(We) receive so many letters for Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan. I have sent around thousand recommendations until now. So many people now want Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan. One actress met me, she has turned old... Asha Parekh. She came to meet me in Mumbai. The lift to my residence was not working, she climbed up 12 floors, I felt very bad. I asked her why she took the trouble."
To which Parekh apparently said that she had received the Padma Shri and now she wanted the Padma Bhushan. According to a report in India Today, Gadkari then replied that the Padma Shri was like the Padma Bhushan, but Parekh disagreed and said that she had worked in many films.
However, Asha Parekh was not among the recipients of the Padma Bhushan in 2016.
According to a report in the Telegraph, Parekh, who does not deny the meeting, has recounted a somewhat different version in her memoirs. She has written that a close friend suggested that she should do something to "upgrade" the Padma Shri that had been awarded to her 24 years earlier. The friend then fixed an appointment with Nitin Gadkari and Parekh went to his Worli residence to meet him.
As mentioned in the Telegraph, Parekh recounts, "The first question he asked me was, 'How old are you?' Taken aback I replied, 'I am 72, sir' after which he said abruptly, 'Okay fine, go. I will recommend your case for the title of Padma Bhushan'."
Parekh has also mentioned that it is practically impossible for her to climb a single flight of stairs, let alone 12. The elevator was apparently working just fine.
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