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Sant Singh Chatwal Padma Bhushan Award Controversy

New Delhi, (IANS) New York-based hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal, recipient of the nation's third highest civilian honour, said he is not happy about the controversy surrounding his getting the Padma Bhushan.

"I am certainly not a happy man about the controversy," said Chatwal when asked whether he feels that the prestige of the Padma awards was brought down as he was given the honour although he was charge-sheeted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

"Can you imagine that I am very well known. I am a trustee in Clinton foundation. I have relations in the American system and the American system goes over everything. But there has been media hype for nothing," he said in the same breath.

The Clinton foundation was established by former US President Bill Clinton with the stated mission to "strengthen the capacity of people throughout the world to meet global challenges".

Chatwal has been in the midst of a controversy since the government Jan 25 announced that he would be accorded the Padma award. This was contested by political parties and court cases were filed. But he got relief after both the Delhi High Court and the Bombay High Court dismissed the petitions seeking to set aside the government's decision to award him.

On Wednesday, an elated Chatwal received the award from President Pratibha Patil at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had criticised the decision to honour Chatwal as he was charge-sheeted by the CBI in a fraud case, while the government had defended its decision saying that there was "nothing adverse on record" against the US-based Indian hotelier.

"I have opened the door for every politician and American politician," Chatwal told NDTV in an interview.

"I don't have any political connection Or any personal agenda. My connections are only to put both democracies together," he added.

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