Writer Gita Mehta has declined the Padma Shri award announced by the government on Friday, saying the timing of its announcement ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election may be “misconstrued”.
Mehta is the sister of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
“Deeply honoured that the government should think me worthy of a Padma Shri but with great regret I decline it as there is a general election looming and timing might be misconstrued, causing embarrassment both to government and me, which I would much regret,” Mehta said in a statement.
According to reports, months earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had met with the writer and her husband, publisher Sonny Mehta, for around 90 minutes at the PM’s residence.
The meeting was seen as an attempt to reach out to Patnaik, whose party BJD is in power in Odisha, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.