Veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh on Saturday clarified the Punjab government’s decision to withdraw his nomination for this year’s Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award as he doesn’t fit in the eligibility criteria for country’s highest sporting honour. In a series of tweets on Saturday, Harbhajan explained that he is not eligible to be nominated for the honour as it is awarded to an international athlete as a recognition for his performance in last three years.

“Dear friends, I have been flooded with calls as to why Punjab Govt withdrew my name from Khel Ratna nominations. The truth is I am not eligible for Khel Ratna which primarily considers the international performances in last three years.”

Harbhajan, who has 417 Test and 269 ODI wickets is an Arjuna Awardee and was also conferred with Padma Shri. Harbhajan last represented India in Test and ODIs in 2015.

“The Punjab Govt is not at fault here as they have rightly withdrawn my name.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.

Last year, the Punjab government missed the deadline and sent Harbhajan Singh’s late because of which it got rejected. In another tweet, he clarified that there has been a lot of confusions around his Khel Ratna nominations last year as well.

“Lot of confusion and 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,” he added.

Away from the international circuit, Harbhajan has plied his trade for two most successful teams in the IPL Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Mumbai Indians (MI) and continues to be a regular in the lucrative tournament.