New Delhi, Jan 26: The US-based writer Gita Mehta, sister of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, on Saturday turned down the Padma Shri award - announcement for which was made on Friday evening.
"I am deeply honoured that the Government of India should think me worthy of a Padma Shri but with great regret I feel I must decline as there is a general election looming and the timing of the award might be misconstrued, causing embarrassment both to the Government and myself, which I would much regret," Ms Mehta said in a statement from New York.
Ms Mehta's name for Padma Shri awards figure among the 94 of them in the Literature & Education category as a 'foreigner' in the United States.
Ms Mehta is the middle of three siblings while Naveen Patnaik is the youngest.
In his tweets, Biju Janata Dal chief and Odisha Chief Minister Mr Patnaik tweeted: "Heartfelt congratulations to Odisha’s illustrious achievers Shri Daitari Naik, Ms Kamala Pujhari and Shri Devarapalli Prakash Rao, for being amongst Padma award winners; wish them the very best for their continued work and greater success".
In another missive the Chief Minister paid homage to a martyred soldier. "Salute to the bravery and ultimate sacrifice of valiant soldier from Odisha, Pradip Kumar Panda for being awarded Kirti Chakra - the second highest peacetime gallantry award. He bravely fought against militants in Kashmir before his martyrdom".
Ms Gita Mehta has penned well known books including 'Karma Cola: Simon and Schuster', 'Raj', 'A River Sutra', 'Snakes and Ladders: Glimpses of Modern India' and 'Eternal Ganesha : From Birth to Rebirth'. (UNI)