Senior Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader and former health minister of Kerala KK Shailaja declined the Ramon Magsaysay Award for 2022 after discussions with the party, reported The New Indian Express on Sunday, 4 September.
As per the report, Shailaja was shortlisted by the award foundation for her management of the Nipah and COVID-19 outbreaks in Kerala. As the state won international accolades for its handling of the crises, the former health minister's work was prominently highlighted by national and international media.
Quoting highly placed sources, TNIE reported that the foundation first verified with Shailaja during an online interaction and later intimated her of the award towards the end of July. Following this, Shailaja, being a central committee member of the CPI(M), consulted the party leadership about the same. The leadership, however, decided against her accepting the award.
Among the reasons offered by the party was that Shailaja was "merely doing her duty entrusted to her by the party." Additionally, the state's efforts in fighting the Nipah outbreak and the COVID pandemic were part of a collective movement, and therefore, she should not accept the award in her individual capacity, the party said.
The report further mentioned that the party decided against her receiving the award as it was in the name of Magsaysay, who was known for putting down Communist guerillas.
(With inputs from The New Indian Express.)