Parade of unity: On the need for more objectivity in the selection of tableaux for the Republic Day parade  

Political partisanship has no place on Republic Day 

January 01, 2024 12:30 am | Updated 08:08 am IST

Tableau proposals by the Opposition-ruled States of Delhi, Punjab and West Bengal are among those that have not qualified for the Republic Day parade this year, on January 26, leading to allegations of partisanship. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that is in power in Delhi and Punjab, and the Trinamool Congress that is in power in West Bengal are crying foul. Delhi had proposed showcasing its school education and health services and the Punjab government had plans to exhibit the State’s heritage and the history of its martyrs for India’s national movement. The West Bengal proposal was to display the Kanyashree project that serves girls in the State. Similar proposals by Delhi and West Bengal have been rejected earlier too. In the case of Delhi, its proposals have been turned down for three consecutive years. In 2022, Tamil Nadu’s tableau, which was themed on the State’s role in national movement, did not qualify. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has said that as these tableaux were meant for the political promotion of Opposition parties, they did not make the cut. Allegations of partisanship surfaced during the previous United Progressive Alliance regime too, where tableaux proposed by the BJP-run Gujarat government were not approved for the parade for several years.

A national celebration is one that can do without such controversies. The Republic Day parade is a combination of patriotism and pomp, and an observance of the country’s unity and diversity. It is a show of hard power, highlighting India’s military might, alongside its cultural heritage and soft power. There is a show of state power, but it is also a festival of people’s power. The parade celebrates the memory of the momentous struggle that the founders of the republic undertook for freedom from imperialism and towards building a modern democratic nation. The theme for the 2024 Republic Day is ‘India – Mother of Democracy’ and ‘Viksit Bharat’ (Developed India). The Ministry of Defence has an elaborate screening mechanism that selects participants for the parade. A committee of distinguished persons drawn from various fields screens proposals from States and organisations. Visual appeal, impact on the masses, theme, degree of detailing, music, and involvement of local artists are the key deciding factors in the selection of a tableau. It is an unfortunate turn for a cherished national day that some States feel excluded from it for political reasons. Regardless of whether their anguish is justifiable or not, efforts to mitigate it would befit the occasion. The Centre should seek ways to achieve more objectivity in the selection of tableaux, and leave little room for complaint..

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