The award winners said they had spoken to Smriti Irani and were promised a reply but they hadn’t heard back.
More than 60 winners of the National Film Awards plan to skip the ceremony this evening because only 11 awards will be presented by President Ram Nath Kovind. In a break from tradition, Smriti Irani, the Information and Broadcasting Minister, will present most of the awards.
“…at the end of the day we feel dejected rather than honoured for our work,” the artistes have said in an impassioned letter addressed to the President as well as the government.
The award winners said they had spoken to Smriti Irani and were promised a reply but they hadn’t heard back. “… we are left with no option but to be absent for the ceremony. We do not intend to boycott the award but are not attending the ceremony to convey our discontent and are awaiting a more just solution,” their letter says.
The President’s office said he attends all award functions for a maximum of one hour. “This has been the protocol since he took office. It was conveyed to Information and Broadcasting Ministry several weeks ago and the ministry knew this all along. Rashtrapati Bhavan is surprised by the 11th hour questions that have been raised,” said Ashok Malik, press secretary to the president.