16-time World Champion cueist Pankaj Advani has expressed his disappointment at missing out on Padma Bhushan award for the second year in a row and taken to Twitter to question his snub. The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna awardee had won a staggering 28th national title in Pune earlier this week.
Maharashtra-born Advani has been India’s greatest-ever professional player of English billiards and has won as many as eight world titles in the last eight years. His name 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).
After missing out on the award, a seemingly hurt Advani replied to the congratulatory tweet of sports minister Vijay Goel, who congratulated him for winning the 28th national title.
He wrote, "Thank
Thank you sir. Just feel after 16 world titles and 2 Asian games golds if I'm ignored for a padma bhushan, don't know what more I need to do https://t.co/kI1pmFL0M9— Pankaj Advani (@PankajAdvani247) January 25, 2017
Although it was initially speculated that former Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was chosen for the Padma Bhushan award this year, later the ministry made it clear that no sportsperson was chosen for the award this year.
BSFI secretary S Balasubramaniam said that he doesn’t think any other sportsman deserves Padma Bhushan award as much Advani does at this moment.
"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, reported PTI.
In the aftermath, Advani’s brother Shree was quite critical towards the selection process.
"This shows the government's tunnel vision towards cricket and Olympic sports. Apparently, you can only get the awards by lobbying or if