January 29, 2017 2:45:18 am
WITH THE Padma awards coming under attack from two prominent sportspersons — badminton player Jwala Gutta and billiards player Pankaj Advani — the government has defended the selection of this year’s awardees, saying the choices were made purely on merit and were not a result of any lobbying. The government said the decision to take applications online this year was an effort to make the selection process more transparent and open. On many previous occasions the awards had been criticised because of alleged favouritism, lobbying and rigging, officials said.
A source said Advani’s application was not received online, and Gutta had nominated herself “with her own citation”. Neither of the two names were discussed at the meetings of the screening committee, the source said.
Advani, a multiple-time world champion in billiards and snooker, and Gutta, who has won several medals in international championships,had expressed disappointment at being ignored for the awards. The government pointed at the selection of Sharad Pawar and P A Sangma for Padma Vibhushan, and also that of Kanwal Sibal, brother of former Union minister Kapil Sibal, to claim that no political favouritism was involved.
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