On the eve of the 73rd Republic Day, former West Bengal CM and senior CPI-M politician Buddhadeb Bhattacharya refused to receive the Padma Bhushan award bestowed upon him by the Centre. The award was given to Bhattacharya for his work in the field of public affairs.
"I had no idea about the Padma Bhushan award since no one told me about it." In a statement, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya said, "If I were given the Padma Bhushan, I would refuse it." Sitaram Yechuri, the General Secretary of the CPI-M, confirmed Buddhadeb Bhattacharya's remark minutes later.
For the past several years, 77-year-old Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, who suffers from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), has hardly left his house. The senior politician did not campaign for his party in Bengal's Assembly elections last year. In the last six months, he has been admitted to the hospital twice.
According to CPI-M officials, the party "does not believe in such prizes," and as a result, both the CPI-M and Buddhadeb Bhattacharya have opted to decline it. "Previously, the name of another former West Bengal Chief Minister and CPI-M stalwart, Jyoti Basu, was suggested for the Bharat Ratna by the then UPA administration, but Basu declined the honour since Communists do not believe in such awards." Buddhadeb Bhattacharya fell in line. "It was expected of him," a CPI (M) leader explained.