Ranchi, Jan. 29: Automatic choice as captain, Padma Shri as an afterthought.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni made it to the list of Padma award winners after bureaucrats from his home state Jharkhand were unable to find anything exceptional about the two doctors whose names had been recommended initially, sources said.
The resultant scramble to find a suitable name began and ended with the obvious choice: the flamboyant cricketer who led the team through a spectacular year in all forms of the game.
CPI MP Bhuvneshwar Mehta had recommended surgeon Heeralal Saha, who is attached to a private nursing home and is well known in Hazaribagh. Former chief minister Shibu Soren and Union minister Subodh Kant Sahay had named Rakesh Srivastava, a doctor who works at a private nursing home in Bokaro.
But when the selection committee, headed by chief secretary A.K. Basu, met earlier this month to finalise the nominees, they realised that no other recommendations had been received.
They sent out letters to the deputy commissioners of Hazaribagh and Bokaro for a detailed verification of the doctors resumes, said a senior home department official. But the deputy commissioners merely sent back the doctors detailed bio-data to the home department.
The selection committee, which met again to finalise the list, realised that more prominent names — those with pronounced achievements behind them — had to be included.
The final list, with Dhonis name on top followed by that of Saha and Srivastava, was placed before Soren, who was chief minister then. Soren approved it and the list was sent to the Union home ministry.
They (the Union home ministry) finally decided to confer the award on Dhoni, the home official said.
Saha said he had been serving the people of the state ever since he returned from England in 1983 and blamed the states leadership for the fiasco.
Srivastava said he would work hard among the people to try for the award next year. It is not the end of life, he told The Telegraph.
Home secretary J.B. Tubid refused to comment on how Dhonis name made the list but confirmed the short-listing procedure.