West Bengal and Maharashtra on Thursday accused the Centre of “step-motherly treatment” for rejecting their proposed tableau for the upcoming Republic Day parade.
The coalition government in Maharashtra dubbed the move an insult to the state and accused the government of behaving in a “prejudiced” manner. NCP MP Supriya Sule said the two states had played a key role in the freedom struggle and the decision to deny permission to their tableaux was an “insult” of the people.
Earlier in the day, a war of words broke out between the ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal and BJP over the matter. While the ruling party in Bengal called it an insult to the people of the state for protesting against the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act, the saffron party alleged that the state government did not adhere to rules before submitting the proposal.
Accusing the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre of having a “vindictive attitude” against the state, West Bengal minister Tapas Roy told PTI, “Just because West Bengal has been opposing the anti-people policies of the BJP government, a step-motherly treatment is being meted out to the state. As we have opposed anti-people laws like CAA, the Centre has rejected our tableau proposal.”
This is not the first time that West Bengal’s tableau proposal has been rejected. There have been previous instances also, he added. “Such cheap politics won’t deter us from opposing anti-people policies. The BJP has insulted the people of West Bengal and they would get a befitting reply for it in the near future,” the TMC minister said.
Responding to the allegations, state BJP president Dilip Ghosh said the tableau was rejected as the state government didn’t properly follow the rules and procedure in submitting the proposal.
“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,” Ghosh said.
What the state had proposed
The West Bengal government had submitted proposals to display at the parade its award-winning cash transfer scheme “Kanyashree” besides giving alternatives of “Sabuj Sathi” (distribution of bicycle among school students) and “Jol Dhoro Jol Bhoro” project that seeks to conserve water, sources told news agency PTI.
The West Bengal government’s proposal was rejected after an Expert Committee examined it in two rounds of meeting, a statement by the ministry read.
The newly formed government in Maharashtra has come out all guns blazing against the Centre for its rejection over their proposed Republic day tableau. BJP’s former ally Shiv Sena has even sought a chief ministerial probe into the matter.
“You will have to explain why the tableaux of the two states were rejected. The chief minister of Maharashtra should
probe the matter. It has to be found out who is responsible for this. Are there elements having loyalty to previous government? There may not be. But this has to be probed,” Sena MP Sanjay Raut told TV9 Marathi news channel.
“The Centre has rejected permissions to the tableaux of Maharashtra and West Bengal from parading on Republic Day. It is a festival of the country and the Centre is expected to give representation to all the states,” Sule tweeted.
What the govt has shortlisted
Out of a total 56, 22 proposals — 16 from states and union territories and six from central ministries — have been shortlisted for the January 26 event in the national capital. The government had received 32 tableau proposals from states and union territories and 24 from central ministries and departments, PTI reported.
“Out of these, 22 proposals, comprising 16 states/UTs and 6 ministries/departments, have finally been short-listed for participation in the Republic Day Parade 2020 after a series of five meetings,” the statement said.
Every year, the Ministry of Defence invites proposals from all states, union territories, central ministries and departments for participation in the Republic Day Parade.
These proposals are then evaluated by the Expert Committee comprising eminent persons in the fields of art, culture, painting, sculpture, music, architecture, choreography, etc. They are finalised 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.
The Bihar government’s proposed Republic Day tableau, based on the theme of ‘Jal-Jeevan-Haryali’ mission, has also been rejected, news agency PTI reported Thursday. This means that the state will not be represented in the grand celebrations at Rajpath in the national capital.
The bid to not find favour on the ground was that the state’s tableau did not fulfill the necessary criteria that was laid down for choosing tableaux from the states for the occasion.
Speaking on the issue, Rashtriya Janata Dal spokesperson Mritunjan Tiwari said, “They (NDA government at the Centre) earlier shot down Bihar’s demand for special status and has now rejected a proposal to showcase its scheme through a tableau on the Republic Day…. This is the truth of the ‘double-engine’ government trumpeted by the BJP”.
Kerala’s Float Also Rejected
A day after the ministry of defence confirmed that West Bengal’s Republic Day tableau had been rejected for the second straight year, it has emerged that tableaux from Kerala, Maharashtra and Bihar are also out. And the political recriminations have started.
News agency ANI on Friday published a list of 22 Republic Day parade participants, consisting of six Union government ministries and 16 states/Union territories. Of the 16 states, whose tableaux have been selected, eight are ruled by the BJP or NDA allies, while four are ruled by the UPA and three are states ruled by non-UPA/non-NDA parties.
Reacting to the rejection of Kerala’s tableau proposal, Kerala Law Minister A.K. Balan told ANI the decision was “politically motivated”.
Kerala’s tableau for 2019 had also been rejected. The New Indian Express reported that Kerala’s tableaux was rejected in the third round of the five-round selection process.
The Kerala tableau was on different art forms from the state, but the selection panel was apparently displeased with “excessive red colour” in it.
“When pointed out the excessive red colour in the presentation, we reworked on it by adding ayurveda and spices in it, which brought some green effect to the float as it was to be carried on a tractor and trailer. We were almost sure that it would make the cut in the final 16 floats of the states to be selected for the event,” a Kerala government public relations department official told The New Indian Express.
Last year, the Kerala tableau was to be centred on the historic Vaikkom Satyagraha of 1924, which protested against untouchability.