JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda, who was selected for the Maharshi Valmiki award, too skipped the event, as he had to fly to London to participate in the Global Achievers Conclave on Thursday.

Defending the government’s decision to confer the award to Gowda, Social Welfare Minister Priyank Kharge and Maharshi Valmiki award selection panel head - retired high court judge Justice Nagamohan Das said that the former prime minister was selected for the award for his contribution to the welfare of the Valmiki community.

"The committee’s recommendation has become controversial. It was reported that the son (H D Kumaraswamy) will present the award to his father (Gowda). But nobody took into consideration the contribution made by Gowda towards the welfare of the community,” said Kharge.

Das said that the panel wanted to break the tradition of restricting the award to achievers from the Valmiki community. "We wanted to send across a message by not selecting an individual from the community,” he added.

The Social Welfare department will present the award to Gowda on his return, said Kharge.