Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday lashed out at the Central government for the confusion at the 65th National Film Awards ceremony, which 55 of the 125 winners skipped, after coming to know President Ram Nath Kovind will present the award to only 11 winners.
Vijayan on Friday night wrote on his Facebook page that what one witnessed on Thursday "was the intolerance of the Centre".
"The president has been put into controversy by Union Minister Smriti Irani, as no valid explanation has come from the Centre on why the tradition has been broken. The protest what we saw is only natural and they (the recipients) only wished and wanted to receive it from the appropriate hands. Why this happened is because this is a game plan to silence those who stand against dictatorship," he said.
Former Defence Minister AK Antony, talking to media persons in Malappuram, said that the Central government should not have created this confusion.
"If the President was unable to hand over all the awards, the Centre should have intimated this well in advance. This controversy could have been avoided," he said.
From among the fairly big contingent of award winners from the Malayalam film industry, veteran playback singer KJ Yesudas and director Jayaraj, after expressing their displeasure against this, went and collected their award.
Jayaraj, who was among the only three members from the Malayalam industry to have attended the ceremony, said that the winners who boycotted the event must return the cash award too.
Director Jayaraj, who won the award for the best director for his film Bhayanakam, told TNM, “I find nothing wrong in having said that. I do not want to comment further, let the others respond to what I have said, then I will comment more on this matter."
Earlier, several recipients of the 65th National Film Awards had signed a joint statement announcing their intention to boycott the award ceremony.
The letter was signed by 69 artists and filmmakers who said, "It seems unfortunate that 65 years of tradition are being overturned in a jiffy."
(With IANS inputs)