NEW DELHI: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday broke his silence over his sister Gita Mehta's decision to turn down the Padma Shri award, saying that she has a right to do whatever she wants.
Mehta, who is a renowned writer based in the US, declined to accept the prestigious award on Friday after her name was announced by the government, claiming that the timing of award can be misconstrued because Lok Sabha election is round the corner.
Mehta had released a statement from New York on Saturday in which she thanked the government for considering her name for the Parma Shri Award but she also explained the reason behind her refusal to accept the honour.
"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," IANS quoted her as saying.
The government had named Mehta for the Padma Shri in the "Foreigners" category for her outstanding contribution to the field of art and literature.
It is to be noted that months before Mehta's name was announced by the government for Padma Shri award, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had met the renowned writer in new Delhi.
Gita's books have been translated in twenty-six languages and have also appeared on many international bestseller lists.
(with agency inputs)