I am not eligible for Khel Ratna, Punjab government right to withdraw my name: Harbhajan Singh
India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh on Saturday cleared the air on why his name was withdrawn by the Punjab government from the Khel Ratna award shortlist, stating that he wasn't eligible for the honor.
Harbhajan clarified that an athlete's performance over the last 3 years has to be taken into consideration for him/her to be shortlisted for the award. The 40-year-old has not played for India since 2016.
"Dear friends, I have been flooded with calls as to why the Punjab Govt withdrew my name from Khel Ratna nominations. The truth is I am not eligible for Khel Ratna which primarily considers international performances in the last three years.
"The Punjab Govt is not at fault here as they have rightly withdrawn my name. Would urge my friends in media not to speculate. Thank you and regards," Harbhajan tweeted.
But this time Bhajji claims that he himself asked the Punjab government not to nominate him for the prestigious award.
"Lot of confusion & speculation regarding my nomination for Khel Ratna so let me clarify. Yes, last year the nomination was sent late but this year I only asked Punjab Govt to withdraw my nomination because I don’t fall under the 3-year eligibility criteria. Don’t speculate further," Bhajji added.
Bhajji last played for India in the 9th match of the Asia Cup T20 tournament against the United Arab Emirates on March 3, 2016. He is the 3rd-most successful bowler for India in Tests with 417 wickets from 103 Tests. He bagged 269 wickets in 236 ODIs and 25 scalps from 28 T20Is for India since his international debut in 1998.