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Chatwal Row: Cong Says Home Ministry Decides On Padma Awards

PTI 26 Jan 2010, 19:04:20 PM IST

After BJP opposed the selection of NRI hotel magnate Sant Singh Chatwal for Padma Bhushan, Congress on Tuesday said the Home Ministry decides on the awards and it might have its reasons for choosing him. 

"The Padma awards are decided by the Home Ministry after a due process. They might have their reasons for it. Only the Ministry could explain it," party spokesman Shakeel Ahmed said.

The spokesman, however, said that in general the party wants these awards to be given to people who increase its prestige and not to those with a "taint". 

"We are not talking of any specific case. But these awards should be given to people who increase its prestige and not to those who have a taint. The award should be given to people whose integrity is not doubtful," Ahmed said. 

He said for these awards, the names come from various state governments and other quarters to the Home Ministry. "These are asessed and then shortlisted," the spokesman said.

BJP Deputy Leader of the Opposition Gopinath Munde has written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh demanding that the award to Chatwal be taken back. 

Munde in his letter has alleged that due to Chatwal's controversial financial dealings, he did not deserve the honour. Chatwal, who is considered close to former US President Bill Clinton and his wife and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was earlier chargesheeted by the CBI in an alleged USD 9 million fraud case.