Author Gita Mehta, who is also the sister of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, refused the Padma Shri award, announced on Friday, saying the timing isn't right.
In a statement from New York, Mehta said she was deeply honored but the award was announced just before General Elections.
She said the timing can be misconstrued causing embarrassment to her and the government.
Gita Mehta's books got her immense recognition
Mehta is the daughter of Biju Patnaik, a celebrated activist and former Chief Minister of Odisha.
Despite being born in an influential family, Mehta made a name for herself through her works.
A student of Cambridge University, Mehta is known for her books Karma Cola (1979), A River Sutra (1993) and Eternal Ganesha (2006). She has also been a part of many documentaries.
General Election is looming, says Mehta
"I am deeply honored that the Government of India should think me worthy of a Padma Shri but with great regret, I feel I must decline as there is a general election looming and the timing of the award might be misconstrued," Mehta said.
It is a fight between BJP and BJD
In Odisha, the Bharatiya Janata Party and Biju Janata Dal are locked in a close fight.
Notably, the BJP performed well in the recently held panchayat polls and is hoping to win a decent number of seats from the state.
The General Elections are due in April-May and it is being speculated the Padma awards would help BJP score political points.
Meanwhile, Pranab Mukherjee got Bharat Ratna
On Republic Day eve, President Ram Nath Kovind also announced the Bharat Ratna awards for former President Pranab Mukherjee, social activist Nanaji Deshmukh (posthumously), and music maestro Dr. Bhupen Hazarika (posthumously).
Apart from Mehta, the Padma Shri was also announced for Kader Khan (posthumous), veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar (posthumous), actor Mohanlal, former Indian cricketer Gautam Gambhir, footballer Sunil Chhetri, and choreographer Prabhu Deva.