Former West Bengal Chief Minister and stalwart of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Buddhadeb Bhattacharya sent across a powerful political message by rejecting the Padma Bhushan award conferred upon him by the Centre for his work in Public Affairs. In a terse statement, the ailing leader said, "I know nothing about this award. No one has told me anything about it. If they have decided to offer Padma Bhushan to me, I refuse to accept it."
The CPI(M) in a social media post, elaborated: "Com. Buddhadeb Bhattacharya who was nominated for the Padma Bhushan award has declined to accept it. The CPI(M) policy has been consistent in declining such awards from the State. Our work is for the people not for awards. Com EMS who was earlier offered an award had declined it." The legendary Marxist leader E.M.S. Namboodiripad, who was the first Communist Chief Minister in India, had turned down the Padma Vibhushan award conferred upon him in 1992 by the then Congress government at the Centre.
Jairam Ramesh, former Union Minister and Congress Rajya Sabha MP, reacting to Buddhadeb Bhattacharya’s decision, had tweeted, "Right thing to do. He wants to be Azad not Ghulam." Ramesh’s apparent pun on social media has also been interpreted as a thinly veiled attack on Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad who has been conferred the Padma Bhushan.
The legendary singer from Bengal Sandhya Mukherjee also turned down the Padma Shri award saying it was "humiliating". According to her family members, the nonagenarian artiste turned down the offer when contacted by the Centre. Her daughter Soumi Sengupta said, "She was informed over phone by the Central Ministry that she was going to be given the Padma Shri. She is 90 years old. She recorded her first song at the age of 12… at her age, to be awarded a Padma Shri for someone of her stature, we feel is nothing short of an insult. She has already refused it."
Tabla maestro Anindo Chatterjee also turned down his Padma Shri. "I have arrived at this point after dedicating my life to music. The award has come too late and I did not like the manner in which it was being conferred, so I said no to it," he said. The eminent classical singer Rashid Khan and well-known screen actor Victor Banerjee were also conferred the Padma Bhushan award this year.