Tableaux rejections based on due process, say Central government sources

Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala kick up political storm over rejection of their proposals

January 17, 2022 09:08 pm | Updated 09:08 pm IST - NEW DELHI

The Cultural Ministry Tableaux rolls down during the full dress rehearsal of the Republic Day Parade at Rajpath in New Delhi last year. File

The Cultural Ministry Tableaux rolls down during the full dress rehearsal of the Republic Day Parade at Rajpath in New Delhi last year. File

After three States kicked up a political storm over the rejection of their proposed tableaux for this year’s Republic Day parade, government sources on Monday said they were rejected by the Subject Expert Committee after “due process and due deliberations”.

Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Kerala have said their tableaux have been rejected by the government. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is yet to release the list of tableaux selected for the parade. In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi dated January 16, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wrote that people of Bengal were “deeply pained” by the government’s decision.

Wrong precedent adopted by CMs

This is a wrong precedent adopted by the CMs to portray an outcome of an objective process as flashpoint between the Centre and the States, a source said. “This goes a long way in harming the federal structure.”

Stating the rejection is unmistakably linked to regional pride and projected as an insult to the people of the States by the Central government and this script also plays out almost every year, the source said. “Perhaps the CMs have no positive agenda of their own that they have to resort to the same old trick using misinformation year after year.”

Stating that due to time constraints, only some of the proposals can be accepted, the source said 56 proposals were received for the Republic Day parade 2022 from States and Central Ministries of which 21 have been shortlisted. It is natural for more proposals to be rejected than those accepted given the paucity of time, the source said.

Selection process

The proposals are evaluated in a series of meetings of the committee comprising eminent people in art, culture, sculpture, music, architecture, choreography among others, government sources said. It examines the proposals on the basis of theme, concept, design and visual impact before making its recommendations, the MoD had said in the past.

The source said the proposals of Kerala were accepted through the same process and system under the same government in 2018 and 2021, of Tamil Nadu in 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020 and 2021 and of West Bengal in 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2021.

“The proposed tableau was commemorating the contributions of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and his INA [Indian National Army] on his 125th birth anniversary and was carrying portraits of some of the most illustrious sons and daughters of this country…, Ms. Banerjee said in the letter. “It is even more baffling for us that the tableau was rejected without assigning any reasons or justifications,” she said.

The Trinamool Congress from its official handle tweeted, “Ridiculous how the BJP-led Central government repeatedly and systematically insults our history, culture and pride. By rejecting Netaji’s tableau, they have again laid bare their hypocrisy. Absolutely unpardonable.”

A few days back the government had announced that the Republic Day celebrations will now begin from January 23 every year instead of January 24 to commemorate Netaji’s birth anniversary.

This year’s tableau of the CPWD includes Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and so the question of his insult does not even arise, the source said.

Deeply disappointing, says Stalin

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin, who has also written to Mr. Modi in protest, said in a tweet, “It is deeply disappointing to note that the tableau depicting VO Chidambaranar, Mahakavi Bharathiyar, Rani Velu Nachiyar and Maruthu Brothers — renowned freedom fighters from Tamil Nadu — is excluded from Republic Day parade, 2022.”

According to the State government, Kerala’s tableau design was rejected as it featured a statue of Sree Narayana Guru as against the selection jury’s suggestion of Adi Sankaracharya.

Communist Party of India general secretary D. Raja called the decision to reject the three tableaux as “discriminatory” and an attack on federalism. “The RSS-BJP combine government is resorting to such rejection as part of its continued but failed attempts to distort our glorious history and the role played by our freedom fighters so as to suit its divisive Hindutva understanding of India and its tradition and culture,” he said.

At last year’s parade, there were 32 tableaux in all, 17 from States and Union Territories (UTs), nine from various Ministries, departments and paramilitary forces and six from the Defence Ministry.

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