New turn in the National Film Awards row. Amid the threats by some of the National award recipients to boycott the function, the president's office has clarified its stance stating that according to protocol, President Ram Nath Kovind attends all award functions for a maximum of one hour. The office further stated that this has been already been conveyed to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.
"President attends all award functions and convocations for a maximum of one hour. This has been the protocol since he took office. It was conveyed to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry several weeks ago and the ministry knew this all along. Rashtrapati office is surprised by the 11th hour questions that have been raised", said Ashok Mailk, press secretary to the president.
The statement comes after more than 60 National Film Award recipients decided to skip the award ceremony in disappointment after they were informed that the president will be presenting only 11 awards. The artists have written a letter to the Directorate of Film Festival, Office of the President of India and the Information and Broadcasting Ministry expressing their dismay at the president's decision. They said they were 'disheartened' on being informed at the very last moment that the president will present only 11 awards. The rest will be presented by Union Information and Broadcast Minister Smriti Irani. The awards are being conferred on Thursday evening.
(With PTI inputs)