More than 70 winners of the National Film Awards today said they would skip the ceremony in the evening after a last minute announcement that President Ram Nath Kovind would be presenting only 11 awards, a departure from tradition.
Expressing “surprise” at the “11th hour questions”, Rashtrapati Bhavan said in a statement that the president attends all award functions for a maximum one hour and this was conveyed to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.
“It was conveyed to Information and Broadcasting Ministry several weeks ago and the ministry knew this all along. Rashtrapati Bhavan is surprised by the 11th hour questions that have been raised,” said Ashok Malik, press secretary to the president.
The function, being held at Vigyan Bhavan, will be organised in two phases this year, the Press Information Bureau said.
The first set of awards will be conferred by Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani and the Minister of State Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore from 4 pm. The second set will be presented by the president from 5.30 pm.