After his remarks on tribal medical practitioner Lakshmikutty Amma being conferred with a Padma award raked up a controversy, state Scheduled Caste and Tribe minister A K Balan on Saturday wrote a Facebook post clarifying his statement. This comes a day after Union Tribal Affairs Minister Juel Oram demanded an apology from Balan.
In his post, the minister said that he had in fact put up a post praising Lakshmikutty Amma for her contributions after the names of awardees were announced and that he had also congratulated her on behalf of the state government.
"I had posted a congratulatory message for Lakshmikutty Amma immediately after the awards were announced. I had even called her personally and congratulated her," he wrote.
"Her contributions in safe guarding the tribal medical science were highlighted in my speech at the assembly and we are only happy and proud that she is bestowed with such a great honourâ€ť, he stated.
At an assembly sessionlast month, AK Balan criticised the Centre for rejecting the state government's list of 42 people, barring just one name, for the civilian awards. The Minister also mentioned in his speech at the assembly that if an award is bestowed for astrology and palmistry, it would also be appropriate for him to nominate his name for the honour, reported a Malayalam media. He was responding to a submission by an MLA seeking the establishment of a traditional healthcare centre for Lekshmikutty Amma in honour of her achievements. His remarks sparked up a row with many accusing the minister of insulting the tribal medical practitioner.
Hitting back at the central government for not considering the state government's names while deciding on the final list, Balan wrote, "The way the central government neglected the Kerala government's list of nominees for the awards is not an act of dignity. Of the 42 names listed by the state government, only one person was selected."
Defending his comment on palmistry and astrology stating, "I was wondering if such a carefully crafted list by the state government is not considered and the awards are being bestowed on the basis of a random list, then even palmistry and magic would be nominated in the future."
"My statement on nominating my name for the award in the future was nothing but humor. It was not meant to disrespect any recipients of the awards. In my profile palmistry and magic are listed as my hobbies, therefore I was only hinting at humor," the minister wrote.
The announcement of the countryâ€™s most prestigious awards came as a shock to the Kerala government when 41 of the 42 names nominated by it were rejected. It was only Philipose Mar Chrysostom, the senior metropolitan of the Mar Thoma Church, who was selected from the state list. He was selected for the Padma Bhushan.
The state government had also recommended M T Vasudevan Nair for the Padma Vibushan and Mammooty and Mohanlal, among others, for the Padma Bhushan.