The divide between the Centre and Kerala State continues to grow, this time over the Padma awards. It has now come to light that only one recommendation by the Pinarayi Vijayan-led Kerala government was accepted by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The LDF government, as is the norm, had submitted a list of 42 people to the Centre for the civilian awards. But only one name eventually made the cut. Philipose Mar Chrysostom, the 101-year-old metropolitan bishop of the Marthoma Syrian Church was conferred the Padma Bhushan. The Padma Shri awardees from the state are palliative care messiah MR Rajagopal and Lakshmikutty Amma, a tribal medical practitioner.
As the per the state’s list, there were 35 recommendations for Padma Shri, six for Padma Bhushan and one for Padma Vibhushan. The details were revealed in response to an RTI query filed by social activist Jomon Puthenpurackal.
Kerala had recommended MT Vasudevan, the doyen of Malayalam literature for the Padma Vibhushan, the country’s second highest civilian award. However, the Centre’s choice was RSS ideologue P Parameswaran. The other recipients for the Padma Vibhushan are music composer Ilaiyaraaja, and Hindustani classical musician Ghulam Mustafa Khan.
Padma Shri winners Lakshmikutty Amma and Rajagopal were not on the list of names sent by the state.
“Who has recommended for Parameswaran, whose name was not in the state list? How he has been chosen without his name being recommended? There are both Supreme Court and High Court orders that there shouldn’t be vested interest or politicisation while considering people for Padma awards. The choice should be just,” activist Jomon Puthenpurackal told TNM.
Among the names recommended by the Kerala government for Padma Bhushan were Malayalam actors Mammootty and Mohanlal, poet Sugathakumari, Kathakali exponent Kalamandalam Gopi and Chenda artiste Peruvanam Kuttan Marar. Mammootty, Mohanlal and Sugathakumari had won the Padma Shri earlier. MR Rajagopal, who was awarded the Padma Shri this year, was on the list of names sent by the state government in 2017.
Jomon also hit out at the Kerala government for failing to recommend new names to the Centre, pointing out that the state was equally guilty of being partisan.
“There are some people who find place in the government list every year. If a name is rejected once what is the need to send it again? There are many unknown faces who really deserve these honours, why doesn’t the government not send fresh names? Also, what is the need to recommend the names of those who already have received Padma Shri, for Padma Bhushan. Now the practice is like those who have influence on government will get Padma awards,” Jomon said.
In 2017 the government had sent a list of 24 names. In this year’s list the names recommended for Padma Shri awards include Soorya Krishnamurthy, known for conducting Soorya art festival, Kathakali exponent Chavara Parukutty, sculptor Kanayi Kunhi Raman, movie artist Nedumudi Venu, noted oncologist VP Ganadharan, CPI leader E Chandrasekharan (posthumously), footballer IM Vijayan, to name a few.