Star badminton player Saina Nehwal got "special" treatment from the sports ministry, which decided on Monday to recommend her case for the Padma Bhushan even after expiry of deadline.
The gesture came following developments over the last two days that suggested she was not happy at being passed over. Saina acknowledged the support of the sports ministry, but expressed unhappiness that a controversy had erupted over her quest to know the reason for the rejection of her nomination in the first place.
Saina said she never demanded the prestigious award and would respect the decision of the sports ministry.
"I didn't really like the way media put it that I have demanded the award. Who am I to demand the award? I am nobody. I am a sportsperson. I play for my country. I just wanted to know why my name was not considered. I just wanted the eligible players' names to be considered. That's all. Finally what the panel decides is what I am going to respect," she said.
"My job is just to play for my country and win as many medals as possible. Rest, I don't know why I was simply put into this controversy and Sushil (Kumar) is a great friend and people have made it really big. I am really upset about it. This is not the right way to put it."
Talking about two-time Olympic medalist wrestler Sushil Kumar, whose name was recommended by the sports ministry to the ministry to home affairs as a special case, Saina said, "Sushil and I always speak to each other. We are from the same place as well, Haryana. There is nothing wrong between us. I will be very happy if Sushil gets the award."
Thanking sports minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Saina said, "I am thankful to Mr Sonowal for doing this and it's a great support."
While making the recommendation for Saina, the sports ministry insisted it did not receive her nomination from the Badminton Association of India (BAI) within the stipulated deadline.
"In view of the achievements of Ms Saina Nehwal, the department of sports has decided to recommend her case for Padma Bhushan to the Ministry of Home Affairs as a special case although the last date for making the recommendation is long over," the ministry said in a statement.
On Saturday, Saina had stated that BAI had recommended her name for the Padma Bhushan in August last year but the sports ministry rejected her application, citing norms.