My sister has right to decline Padma Shri: Naveen

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Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday said his sister Gita Mehta has every right to decline the Padma Shri award.

“My sister has a right to do whatever she desires,” Patnaik told the media here.

Noted writer Gita Mehta, Patnaik’s elder sister, had declined to accept the Padma Shri last week, saying its timing was questionable as the general election was set to take place and the award may cause embarrassment to both the Odisha government and her.

Mehta had been named for the Padma Shri in the ‘Foreigners’ category for her outstanding contribution to the field of art and literature.

The Chief Minister also rubbished the allegations of Congress President Rahul Gandhi that he was remote-controlled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his government’s involvement in corruption.

“Bilkul Bakwaas (absolute trash),” responded the Chief Minister.

He also reviewed the pending issues with the officials of Union government at the Odisha Bhavan here.

He said the Centre is yet to transfer Rs 6,400-crore due to the state, with only one month left for the financial year to end.

This includes more than Rs 1,000 crore for housing, Rs 375 crore for health, Rs 400 crore under the rural job scheme and Rs 650 crore for agriculture, Patnaik said.

While the state government is spending more than Rs 3,000 crore on drinking water from the state budget, the Centre has allocated Rs 180 crore, of which only Rs 80 crore has released.

For poverty alleviation, out of Rs 200 crore, the state has received only Rs 6 crore, he said.