The event, held in New Delhi last Thursday, witnessed an unprecedented boycott by as many as 55 awardees after it was known that the President would be giving away only 11 awards and would stay at the awards functions only for an hour.
President Ram Nath Kovind has conveyed his displeasure to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) over the controversy regarding this year’s National Film Awards.
An official statement from the Rashtrapati Bhawan expressed “suprise” at the “11th hour questions” saying that the president attends all award functions for a maximum one hour and that this was conveyed to Information and Broadcasting Ministry days before. “President attends all award functions and convocations 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.
When the controversy had broken out on May 3, the President’s secretary Ashok Malik had said that Rashtrapati Bhavan had conveyed to every ministry about the new protocol that President Kovind had set for all official functions.
The artists expressed their displeasure and said they were disheartened. The said they “felt dejected rather than honoured” on being informed at the last minute about the change.