The Karnataka government has decided to confer the Karnataka Ratna award posthumously to Kannada film star Puneeth Rajkumar, who died earlier this year at a young age following a heart attack. The award will be conferred on November 1, the state formation day.
The decision to give the award posthumously to Puneeth was made by Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai at the opening of the annual Independence Day flower show at the Lalbagh Botanical Garden in Bengaluru on Friday. This year’s flower show is dedicated to the memory of Puneeth and his father, the late Dr Rajkumar, who are state icons.
“A committee will be formed to make preparations for the award presentation ceremony. Members of Dr Rajkumar’s family will also be members of the committee. We all together will present the award posthumously to Puneeth in a dignified manner,” Bommai said.
The Karnataka chief minister was recently criticised by author Chakravarthy Sulibele for mourning the death of the actor for three days following his death. He later apologised to the actor’s fans after facing an online backlash for the remarks.
Puneeth Rajkumar and Dr Rajkumar are Kannada icons in Bengaluru and the move to award the Karnataka Ratna to Puneeth has been made in the run-up to civic polls in Bengaluru which is likely to be announced soon following the completion of delimitation and quota fixation.
The annual Bengaluru flower show has been held since 1922 and witnessed a break only during the Covid years of 2020 and 2021. “This year, the flower show is even more attractive as the nation is celebrating ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’. It is set to attract lakhs of people over the next 10 days,” Bommai said on Friday.
“This year, the flower show has been organized as a tribute to Dr Rajkumar and Puneeth Rajkumar. So we are expecting a bigger response,” Bommai said. The state horticulture department, which now functions under the state minister and film producer N Muniratna, organises the annual flower show at the Lalbagh Botanical Garden in south Bengaluru.