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New Delhi [India], January 26 (ANI): Hitting out at Congress leader Jairam Ramesh over his dig at Ghulam Nabi Azad on his nomination for Padma Bhushan award by the Centre, Trinamool Congress MP Sushmita Dev on Wednesday asked whether former President Pranab Mukherjee and former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi were "Ghulams" (slaves).

Taking to Twitter, Sushmita Dev said, "Padma Bhushan for Tarun Gogoi and Bharat Ratna for Pranab Mukherjee - does it make them Ghulams?"Her remarks came in response to Congress veteran and former union minister Jairam Ramesh's tweet about Buddhadeb Bhattacharya refusing the award, saying, "Right thing to do. He wants to be Azad not Ghulam."Former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi was conferred with the Padma Bhushan award posthumously in November last year. His wife Dolly Gogoi had received the award on his behalf from President Ram Nath Kovind at Rashtrapati Bhavan in Delhi.

Former President Pranab Mukherjee was conferred with the highest civilian honour of Bharat Ratna in 2019.

Ever since the announcement of the Padma Awards, a divide is being seen in the Congress, especially after its veteran leader Ghulam Nabi Azad was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the Centre for his contribution to public Affairs.

Azad is yet to give a statement or react to the announcement of the award by the Narendra Modi government.While a tweet from a close aide of the Gandhi's and the Chief Whip of the party in Rajya Sabha, Jairam Ramesh took a dig on Azad for accepting the award, Congress stalwarts from the G-23 group have congratulated him for the "well-deserved" award.

Several Congress stalwarts are seemingly unhappy after the tweet of Jairam Ramesh. One of the G-23 leaders on anonymity told ANI that it's surprising that such a message has been given.

"Gulam Nabi Azad has done a lot for the public. He was a minister in Indira Gandhi's cabinet. He has been one of the longest-serving Cabinet ministers in the country and awards are not from any particular party. They are from the Government. It is very bad that this is being dragged into a controversy," a senior Congress leader said.Meanwhile, Congress Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal congratulated him while also slamming the party for "not needing Azad's services".

"Ghulam Nabi Azad conferred Padam Bhushan. Congratulations bhaijan. Ironic that the Congress doesn't need his services when the nation recognises his contributions to public life," Sibal tweeted.

Shashi Tharoor also extended congratulations to Azad and said, "Warm congratulations to Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad on his Padma Bhushan. It is good to be recognized for one's public service even by a government of the other side."Anand Sharma, who is the Deputy Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, too extended support to the veteran leader and said, "Heartiest congratulations to Ghulam Nabi ji for well-deserved recognition of his lifelong enriching contribution to public service and Parliamentary democracy." (ANI)

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