The government rejected proposals to confer Padma awards to a clutch of prominent personalities, including cricketer MS Dhoni, controversial spiritual leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and tabla maestro Zakir Hussain, the Indian Express reported on Monday.
Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar and veteran BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi, who were awarded the country’s second-highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan, were not on the initial list of nomination, the newspaper said.
Officials told the Indian Express that the two were awarded under the “public affairs” category, which falls under the government’s discretion, but didn’t mention who nominated them.
The Padma awards are expected to be conferred by the President at ceremonial functions held at Rashtrapati Bhavan later this year. This year, President Pranab Mukherjee approved Padma awards for 89 recipients, including seven Padma Vibhushan, seven Padma Bhushan and 75 Padma Shri awards.
Other prominent personalities whose names were turned down include Biju Janata Dal MP Baijayant Panda, music composer Anu Malik.