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Award remark upsets Sarkar

Agartala, Aug. 30: Chief minister Manik Sarkar has expressed resentment over denial of the Padma awards to former chief ministers Nripen Chakraborty and Dasharath Deb.

The matter came up in the Assembly yesterday as Congress MLA Biswabandhu Sen raised the issue of Dr Rathin Dutta, a Padma Shri awardee who had said on television that successive state governments in Tripura had deprived him of any honour or recognition.

The name of Dr Dutta, who had worked with distinction as surgeon-in-chief and special secretary for health and had rendered yeoman’s service during the 1971 Bangladesh war and the June 1980 riots, had been recommended for the Padma award by the ruling Congress-TUJS coalition in the state in 1982.

Chief minister Manik Sarkar who was in the House said he had lost all respect for the Padma awards. “After I became chief minister in 1998, our government had recommend the names of former chief ministers and mass leaders Nripen Chakraborty and Dasharath Deb for the Padma award. But the Union home ministry took no notice. If they did not deserve the Padma award for all that they did for the state and its people, who does?” he asked.

Replying to the point made by Sen, the chief minister also said during the Bangladesh’s award-giving programme in Dhaka in 2012, Dr Dutta had expressed his disappointment over denial of “appropriate recognition” from the Centre.

The exchanges over the issue continued for a while with former leader of the Opposition and Congress MLA Ratanlal Nath asserting that the Padma awards were given for contribution to specific fields of society and not stature in politics.

“Nripen Chakraborty and Dasharath Deb were chief ministers and great mass leaders but Padma awards are not given for politics and mass leadership. In that sense, denial of awards to them was justified,” Nath said. This put the lid on further exchanges over the issue.

With only two Padma Shri awarded in 68 years of Independence, Tripura has never been known as a state that is in the eye of the Centre for conferring prestigious awards on.

In 1971, at the height of Bangladesh war, the army had recommended Padma Shri for the state government’s then sub-divisional officer of Sonamura, Himangshu Chowdhury. The second award came after 11 years when Dr Dutta was awarded the Padma Shri in 1982. He was also awarded by the government of Bangladesh in a special programme in Dhaka in 2012. Since then, nobody has received the award.