Chatwal, who was earlier chargesheeted by the CBI for an alleged USD 9 million fraud case connected with the State Bank of India, said he was thrilled and "grateful" to the Indian Government that after such a long time they have really recognised his services towards strengthening Indo-US ties.
"I have really no idea about BJP's objection. I love my country and have been working for the past 30 years. I don't care for the parties. They will come and go," said Chatwal, considered close to former US President Bill Clinton and his wife and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
BJP's Deputy Leader in the Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde yesterday had written a letter to the President and Prime Minister expressing disapproval over the government's decision to bestow the third highest civilian honour on Chatwal.
Munde alleged that due to Chatwal's controversial financial dealings he did not deserve the honour and it should be taken back.
In the wake of the BJP demand, Congress said the Home Ministry decides the awards and they might have their reasons for it. Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmed however said that in general the party wants these awards to be given to people who enhance its prestige and not to those with a taint.
Chatwal said he was grateful to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who has recognised "my efforts and services for this award."
Chatwal is one of the 13 Non-resident Indians to be given Padma awards on the occasion of the Republic Day. He had recently announced that his Hampshire Hotels chain would set up 25 hotels in India by 2011. P