New Delhi [India], January 27 (ANI): Veteran Congress leader Karan Singh has expressed distress at "unseemly controversy" within the party over the Padma award to party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and said such national awards "should not become a subject of inter-party controversy, far less of intra-party ones".
Karan Singh's remarks are being seen as a dig at party leader Jairam Ramesh who had suggested that Azad should refuse the award on the lines of former West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.
Karan Singh said if "one of our colleagues is honoured," he should be greeted with warm appreciation rather than "snide remarks".
Jairam Ramesh's remarks reflected an apparent divide within Congress on the issue. The party did not make any comment officially on Azad being bestowed the honour.
The government had announced Padma awards ahead of the 73rd Republic Day and Ghulam Nabi Azad is among the Padma Bhushan awardees. Azad is a member of G-23 which had written to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi for sweeping reforms in the party.
"I am distressed at the unseemly controversy over the well-deserved Padma Award to my good friend Ghulam Nabi Azad. These National Awards should not become a subject of inter-party controversy, far less of intra-party ones. I have known Ghulam Nabi for half a century since he first started his political career as an active participant in my second election campaign for the Lok Sabha in 1971 from the Udhampur constituency, to which he belongs," Karan Singh said.
"Since then I have seen him rise through sheer dint of hard work, dedication and administrative ability to becoming a Cabinet Minister, both with Shri PV Narasimha Rao and Dr Manmohan Singh. As Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha for seven years, he played a positive and constructive role in our parliamentary system," he added.
Karan Singh said that Ghulam Nabi Azad earlier became the first Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir from the Jammu region and his short stint "is still remembered positively in both regions".
After Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee refused Padma Bhushan, Jairam Ramesh, who is the party's chief whip in the Rajya Sabha, had tweeted that it is the right thing to do.
"Right thing to do. He wants to be Azad not Ghulam," he had said.
Party leader and former Union Minister Ashwani Kumar had slammed Jairam Ramesh for his remarks.
"Congress Rajya Sabha Whip's criticism of Ghulam Nabi Azad for receiving the Padma award is nothing less than a shameful innuendo intended to rob both the Award and its recipient of the deserved dignity. Such a mindset does not do justice to the dignitarian ethos of the Congress," Kumar had said. (ANI)