Republic Day Tableau Controversy: Why Non-BJP States Are Upset

Non-BJP ruled states have alleged that the exclusion of their state tableaux stems from political vindictiveness

The Ministry of Defence has shortlisted a total of 22 tableaux for participation in the Republic Day parade on January 26, of which 16 are those of states/union territories (UT) and 6 are those of ministries/departments. The chosen tablueux have been vetted from a list of 56 applications - 32 states/UTs and 24 ministries/departments. However, this selection has stirred a hornet's nest, as officials from non-Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) governed states are accusing the central government of deliberately dropping their representation. BJP officials and the government have defended this move, citing a fair selection process and the exclusion of other BJP-ruled states.

Last year too, the Republic Day parade displayed 22 tableaux.

While the Ministry (through a Press Information Bureau release) has not named the selected applications, it does mention the exclusion of the state of West Bengal from the list this year. The application was deliberated for two rounds, with their application being rejected in the second round of meetings.

Later, ANI came out with a list of shortlisted tableaux that would feature in the parade.

Of the states mentioned by ANI, Rajasthan, Punjab, Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh are ruled by the Congress, while Odisha, Telangana and Tamil Nadu are ruled by regional parties. The BJP is in alliance or governs all other states on the list, except for Jammu and Kashmir which is a UT.

How are the tableaux selected?

The PIB release says that there is a well established system for the selection of tableaux for display on the Republic Day parade.

All applications are vetted by an 'Expert Committee', consisting of experts from art, culture, painting, sculpture, music, architecture and choreography. The 22 participating tableaux have been shortlisted after a series of five meetings, keeping into account the theme, concept, design and visual impact.

On the rejection of the tableau of West Bengal, the release says, "It is pertinent to mention here that the tableau of Govt. of West Bengal was shortlisted for participation in Republic Day Parade 2019 as an outcome of the same process."

Who has said what?

Other notable exclusions from the list are Bihar, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Kerala.

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut attributed the exclusion of Maharashtra from the list to the party currently being in government with the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress. "What has happened this time that Maharashtra and West Bengal tableaux were not included? Both states don't have the BJP government, is this the reason? In Maharashtra, there is Maha Vikas Aghadi government, is this the reason?", he told India Today TV.

Maharashtra was last excluded from the Republic Day parade in 2016, and won the award for the best tableau in 2018. Similar comments were made by Supriya Sule, NCP MP from Baramati, alleging prejudice against Maharashtra.

Kerala state's law minister, AK Balan said the decision to reject Kerala's entry was politically motivated, after the state's application was rejected for the second time in a row.

"Since the West Bengal government is opposing the anti-people policies of the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) government, a stepmotherly treatment is meted out to the State", Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs in West Bengal Tapas Roy told journalists, after his state's tableau was dropped. Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy said that the tableau's exclusion is due to the state's opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Act.

Bihar, which has a government where the BJP is in alliance with Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (United) too has seen its application rejected. It had proposed a theme surrounding the 'Jal-Jivan-Hariyali Abhiyan', a scheme launched by CM Kumar in October 2019. The opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal called this exclusion a humiliation of the people of Bihar.

The government, however, has defended this move, citing the exclusion of the tableaux of even BJP ruled states.

The President of Brazil, Jair Bolsarano, will be the chief guest of the Republic Day celebrations this year.

Updated On: 2020-01-04T18:06:13+05:30
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