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Published On: Sat, Jan 26th, 2019

Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik’s sister writer Gita Mehta turns down ” Padma “Award

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geeta MehtaNEW DELHI : Noted writer Gita Mehta, who is also the elder sister of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, on Saturday declined to accept the Padma Shri award. Mehta said the timing of the award was questionable as the general election was set to take place and the award may cause embarrassment both to the Odisha government and her.
“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 (it) 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,” said Mehta in a press statement from New York.
Mr Mehta, who has published best-sellers of Barack Obama and many others, including Tony Blair and six Nobel prize winners, half expected it to be a publishing pitch. That would have been a problem, because none of those he published had ever been written while the incumbent was in office.

Months before the government announcement of a Padma Shri award for US-based writer Gita Mehta — who happens to also be Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s elder sister — Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached out to her and had a 90-minute meeting with her and her very famous husband, iconic publisher Sonny Mehta. The couple thought the Prime Minister might have been thinking of writing his story, as Mr Mehta has published the works of various American Presidents that sold millions of copies.

Mehta had been selected for the Padma Shri in the ‘Foreigners’ category for her outstanding contribution to the field of art and literature. Mehta has authored books like ‘Karma Cola’ (1979), ‘Raj’ (1989), ‘A River Sutra’ (1993), ‘Snakes and Ladders: Glimpses of Modern India’ (1997) and ‘Eternal Ganesha: From Birth to Rebirth’ (2006).
“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,” Mehta said in her statement from New York.

Lok Sabha polls in the country as well as state Assembly election in Odisha are due this year.Prominent among the books authored by Mehta are ‘Karma Cola’, ‘A River Sutra’, ‘Snakes and Ladders: Glimpses of Modern India’ and ‘Eternal Ganesha: From Birth to Rebirth’.The 76-year-old writer has also produced and/or directed 14 documentaries.
When the Prime Minister’s Office rang the home of Mr Patnaik in New Delhi six months ago, the call was answered by the caretaker. The caretaker was asked if the PM could speak to Gita Mehta. Babu, it is believed, tried to explain to the officer that Ms Mehta lives in the US and not New Delhi, when the Prime Minister came on the line.
However Ms Mehta’s New York number. The Indian embassy there must have organized it, say sources, because very soon, the author of books like Karma Cola, received a phone call from the PM who invited them to visit him when in India. Ms Mehta is the middle of three siblings while Naveen Patnaik is the youngest.(With Agency Inputs).

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