Prime Minister Narendra Modi has defended the Padma Awards conferred this year, saying that it was for the first time when common achievers were felicitated. He also said that the awards were conferred on merit in the present regime unlike the previous one when those close to the power corridors were favoured for awards.

Adding further, the PM while addressing a meeting of NDA partners said that it was necessary for everyone to speak in one voice outside and inside Parliament.

It should be mentioned that the Padma awards have triggered enormous speculations with the Narendra Modi government’s decision to confer Padma Vibhushan on political stalwarts like NCP patriarch Sharad Pawar, former Lok Sabha speaker PA Sangma (posthomusly) and BJP veteran Murli Manohar Joshi.

Most importantly, the decision to felicitate Pawar is seen as a ploy by the government to woo the Maratha strongman for the upcoming Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections. Despite being alliance partners in Maharashtra, both BJP and Shiv Sena have decided to contest the civic polls alone. It is no secret that the relations between both the NDA alliance have not been cordial since the BJP achieved a landslide victory in the 2014 Assembly polls, garnering more seats than Sena.

The Shiv Sena has time and again not left an opportunity to corner the Modi government over a host of issues, including demonetisation. In a vitriolic attack on the PM few days ago, the regional party had said that the PM had dropped a ‘nuclear bomb’ through its bold move and turned the country’s economy into Hiroshima and Nagasaki, referring to the two Japanese cities devastated by atomic bomb in the World War II.