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Wednesday 29 January 2020

Tableaux of WB, Maharashtra, ‘unfit’ for Republic Day parade

The Ministry of Defence has clarified while the tableaux had been shortlisted, they could not pass the scrutiny of subsequent test rounds

The tableaux of Maharashtra and West Bengal will not be seen in the Republic Day parade of the year 2020. Jitendra Awadh, a minister in the Maharashtra government, has claimed that the union home ministry has refused to accept the tableau of Maharashtra in the Republic Day parade this time. Trinamool Congress leaders have been crying foul too.

“To exclude Bengal would be gross discrimination. Bengal represents a rich heritage and its exclusion shows the partisanship of the Modi-Shah duo,” Trinamool Congress Saugata Roy said, according to Hindustan Times.

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said that the tableau of Maharashtra has always been the attraction of the country. If this had happened during the tenure of the INC, the Maharashtra BJP would have attacked the government aggressively.

On the occasion of Republic Day, tableaux showcase the culture or work ethic of states, union territories and central ministries on Rajpath. A total of 22 tableaux will be shown in this year’s parade. There will be 16 states and union territories and six union ministries. A total of 56 tableaux were proposed to the Ministry of Defence for the parade.

Raut said it was unfortunate that the tableau of Maharashtra, prepared by the JJ School of Arts, was not included in the parade this time. “We have received awards for this on most occasions. What happened this time that the tableaux of Maharashtra and West Bengal did not get a place? This is the reason why there is no BJP government in these states. This is a big insult to Maharashtra.”

Raut said that the whole of Maharashtra waited for the Republic Day parade. “I appeal to the Maharashtra chief minister to investigate the matter,” he added.

The Shiv Sena MP said, “Now we have to look at other states where BJP is not in power. Whether Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand are included or not is to be seen.”

tableaux of Bengal, Maharashtra
The tableau of Maharashtra on a previous occasion

Govt clarifies why it rejected tableaux of Bengal, Maharashtra

It turns out that the two states did not follow all the rules needed that govern the permission for a tableau’s entry into the Republic Day Parade. The Ministry of Defence on Wednesday rejected West Bengal’s tableau proposal after an expert committee examined it in two rounds of meeting, a statement by the ministry said.

“The tableau proposal of the West Bengal government was not taken forward for further consideration by the expert committee after deliberations in the second meeting. It is pertinent to mention here that the tableau of the government of West Bengal was short-listed for participation in the Republic Day Parade 2019 as an outcome of the same process,” the defence ministry statement read.

The ministry had received 32 tableau proposals from states and union territories and 24 from central ministries and departments of which 22 proposals, comprising 16 states and union territories and six ministries/departments, have finally been short-listed, the statement said.

“The state government has not followed the rules. Other states have followed them, so their tableau proposals were accepted. The TMC should stop doing politics on each and every issue,” BJP’s Bengal president Dilip Ghosh said.

There is a well-established system for selection of tableau for participation in the Republic Day Parade. The Ministry of Defence invites proposals from all states, union territories, central ministries and departments.

The proposals are then evaluated in a series of meetings of the Expert Committee comprising eminent persons in the fields of art, culture, painting, sculpture, music, architecture, choreography, etc.

The Committee examines the proposals on the basis of theme, concept, design and its visual impact before making its recommendations, the statement said.

Due to time constraints, only a limited number of tableau can be short-listed for participation in the parade. “The selection process in vogue leads to the participation of the best tableau in the parade,” the statement added.

Trinamool not impressed

Madan Mitra of the Trinamool Congress was not convinced. He said the move indicated Delhi was “afraid of West Bengal”. “It’s not new in the history of Bengal. Delhi is afraid of Bengal. They can cancel the tableau of Bengal in Delhi but Bengal will cancel NRC and CAA in Bengal,” he said.

There is some merit in Mitra’s statement that this is not new for Bengal. Even during the Rajiv Gandhi-led INC’s rule at the centre and Jyoti Basu-led CPI(M)’s in the state, or CPM-supported UPA rule at the centre and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee-led CPM rule in the state, Bengal’s tableaux had been rejected on multiple occasions.

What indeed projects the centre in poor light in all such cases is that the Ministry of Defence is not forthcoming in its statements. Even as it says, this time for example, that the tableaux did not pass the scrutiny of subsequent rounds of the expert committee meeting, it does not spell out the exact reason(s) for the rejection of the tableaux. It is now being speculated in political circles that the reasons for rejection of the tableaux from Bengal and Maharashtra were anti-CAA demonstration and an anti-Hindutva narrative respectively.

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