‘After 16 world titles and two Asian games golds if I'm ignored for a Padma Bhushan, don't know what more I need to do’
Hurt at missing out on Padma Bhushan award for the second year in a row, 16-time world champion cueist Pankaj Advani says he does not know what he needs to do more to receive the coveted civilian honour.
Advani, who has pocketed eight world titles in the last eight years, was recommended for the third highest civilian award of the country by the Karnataka government as well as the Billiards and Snooker Federation of India (BSFI).
The Bengaluru-based Advani, one of India's greatest cueists, did not say much after being overlooked for the award yet again, but expressed his feelings on social media.
"Thank you sir. Just feel after 16 world titles and two Asian games golds if I'm ignored for a Padma Bhushan, don't know what more I need to do," Advani tweeted in his response to Sports Minister Vijay Goel, who congratulated him for winning a staggering 28th national title in Pune earlier this week.
No sportsperson was chosen for Padma Bhushan this year while eight athletes from various disciplines, including Virat Kohli and Dipa Karmakar, were honoured with Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian honour which Advani received way back in 2009.
Advani has also been awarded with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna (2006), India's highest sporting honour.
BSFI secretary S Balasubramaniam could not think of any current sportsperson more deserving than Advani for the Padma Bhushan.
"It is very sad to hear that he has been ignored again. It is happening year after year. It is disheartening not only for him but for the entire fraternity. Looks like lobbying is what works (to get these awards). If you go by sheer performance, Pankaj should have got it long ago. Tell me a sportsperson who consistently win world titles like Pankaj. However, we will try again next year," Balasubramaniam said.
Advani's brother Shree too did not hide his disappointment.
“This shows the government's tunnel vision towards cricket and Olympic sports. Apparently, you can only get the awards by lobbying or if hype is created, merit is not enough. Pankaj deserves a lot more than Padma Bhushan," he said.