Yet again this year, some of the state governments and the centre have clashed over the selection process of tableaux that will be paraded as part of the annual Republic Day celebration. These state governments, namely Kerala, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu - all ruled by non-BJP parties - have accused the Centre of political bias in shortlisting these tableaux. They also wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting his intervention on the issue.
The Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Bannerjee, expressed her disappointment that their tableaux based on freedom fighter Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was rejected. The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, MK Stalin, has stated that the Centre's rejection of all seven of their designs was unacceptable.
As a response, the Minister of Defence, Rajnath Singh, has written to these two states refuting their claims, stating that their tableaux representing their states have received ample opportunity in the recent past to be showcased during the Republic Day parade.
Earlier, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also tweeted on the issue.
The Ministry of Defence is primarily responsible for the organisation of national celebrations like the Republic Day parade, the Beating Retreat Ceremony (on January 29 annually), Martyr's Day (January 30) and Independence Day celebrations.
As part of its preparations towards the Republic Day parade preparations, the Ministry of Defence has released its criteria in a letter dated September 16, 2021 for selection and other technicalities. Here's what we know about the tableaux selection process.
The tableaux proposals are evaluated in a series of meetings with experts, as part of a committee, in fields like art, culture, choreography, music, and painting.
In the first phase of selection, the sketches and designs of the tableau are approved by the committee, and if needed, suggestions are made. Post this approval, all interested participants would need to come up with a three-dimensional model of this proposal. However, this does not mean final selection. These meetings with the committee are attended by an official representative of the state, ministry of department at their own expense. The participant-appointed sketch artist or model in-charge may also attend these meeting to take notes and feedback, but cannot interact with the committee unless explicitly asked.
In the next phase, which leads up to the final selection, all aspects of the tableaux are discussed. The issues that are considered, which the notice states are like but not limited to visual appeal, impact on the masses, idea/theme of the tableaux, music with the tableau and the degree of detail. These discussions take place over a series of six to seven rounds, with proposals getting eliminated at each round. Only those who are shortlisted would be intimated on to the next stage.
Finally, the ultimate selection takes place. The tableaux cannot be displayed on Rajpath during the parade unless it meets the specification at the time of the final approval.
What should be included in the tableaux composition?
The tableaux should engage young designers from renowned institutions and should be built in consultation with them.
They should feature renewable materials, and reduce the use of plastics. Technology, such as LED, augmented and virtual reality and robotics should also be incorporated.
The Ministry of Defence notification can be read here.
This is not the first time that the states ruled by non-BJP parties have raised questions about their non-selection. Republic Day 2020 also saw its fair share on controversy along similar lines when large states like West Bengal, Maharashtra and Kerala failed to find a place in the final list.
This can be read below.