Mumbai, Jan 29 (PTI) Pakistani-origin musician Adnan Sami, in the headlines for his Padma Shri, says he is an artiste and he has nothing to do with politics but his name is being dragged into controversy by some people to further their agenda.
Sami, who became an Indian citizen in 2016 and had expressed his 'infinite gratitude' at being chosen for the government award, also asked what his father had to do with his award.
His father's past as a Pakistani Air Force pilot has drawn criticism but Sami finds this argument 'irrelevant'.
'My father was a decorated fighter pilot and he was a professional soldier. He did his duty for his country. I respect him for that. It was his life. He got awarded for that.
'I did not benefit or credit from that. Similarly he cannot get credit for what I do. What does my award have to do with my father? It is irrelevant,' Sami told PTI in an interview.
Sami, who is among the 118 Padma Shri awardees this year, is in the centre of controversy with the BJP saying he is highly deserving of the award and the opposition Congress and NCP questioning his merit.
The 46-year-old composer-singer was also involved in an unseemly Twitter spat with Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill.
He said he shared a good relationship with people across the political spectrum.
'People who are criticising are some minor politicians. They are doing it because of some political agenda that they have and it has nothing to do with me. I am not a politician, I am a musician,' Sami said.
'They have their own political agenda and issues with the government and they are using my name as another stepney to try and further their agenda,' he added.
Politicians such as Maharashtra Minorities Development Minister and NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik called the recognition to Sami a damage control move by the ruling BJP government at the Centre for being questioned over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens.
Sami said he is ready to face personal and professional criticism but dragging his name into politics is uncalled for.
'I am dragged into it because of politics and not because of my art. The irony of all this is that all these wonderful, rosy sentences that art knows no boundaries or art is above politics, why don't they practise that? Leave art and artistes out of this nonsense,' he added.
Sami said he was conferred with the Naushad award during the Congress government's rule and he was a Pakistani citizen at the time.
'Now I am an Indian citizen, perfectly entitled to be given this award. They are bringing the Pakistani element, it is funny, hilarious. They are picking up on something because they don't have anything else to pick up on.
'These are all junior guys, either they are trying to become relevant and some of them don't know that their seniors are so respectful. I am friends with everybody, whether it's the BJP or the Congress. I am a musician. I share love through my music,' Sami said. PTI KKP BK AQS BK MIN MIN