The Sports Ministry has recommended Saina Nehwal's name for the Padma Bhushan award, after all. The Indian badminton star had earlier expressed anger at not being nominated for the award.
In a press statement on Monday, the Ministry said Saina's recommendation was a "special case". Earlier, Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said that the Badminton Association of India did not apply for Saina's award on time. The BAI has contradicted this.
BAI clarified that what the minister received on Saturday was a copy of the application they had sent to the ministry last year. BAI president Akhilesh Dasgupta said he had directed his office to resend a copy when he had come to know that the ministry hadn't received the original letter. "Our recommendation was sent on August 9. We also have an acknowledgment from the sports ministry for it," Dasgupta said.
The release said: "The Ministry has since received the nomination of Saina Nehwal for Padma Bhushan on 3rd January, 2015 from Badminton Association of India. In view of the achievements of Saina Nehwal, the Department of Sports has decided to recommend her case for Padma Bhushan to the Ministry of Home Affairs as a special case although the last date for making the recommendation is long over."
The Ministry also clarified that it had not received any nomination in respect of Saina last year either. So the question of Department of Sports intimating Saina that her nomination for Padma Bhushan was not recommended to the Ministry of Home Affairs in 2013, as there has to be a gap of 5 years between two Padma Awards, does not arise.
A delighted Saina said, "I am thankful to Sonowal sir for recommending my name. People, who deserve these awards, should be considered."
Earlier, Saina Nehwal lambasted the sports ministry for its refusal to consider her for the award. Olympic bronze medallist Saina, who was bestowed the Khel Ratna and Padma Shri in 2010 and also received the Arjuna award in 2009, said she was "sad" that the sports ministry felt two-time Olympic medallist Sushil deserves it more than her. "I was really sad my name was not sent to the ministry of home affairs by the sports ministry of India. I hope sports ministry look up to this and I will be more than happy if both me and Sushil get the award as we both won medals in 2012 Olympics," Saina tweeted.