No entry on R-Day: Maharashtra tableau for R-Day parade rejected; West Bengal, Bihar shown exit

Mumbai: The art and culture wing of the government of Maharashtra is baffled at the Centre's rejection of Maharashtra's proposed tableau for participation in the Republic Day parade at Raj Path, New Delhi.

A cryptic notification issued by the ministry of defence has informed the state that due to time constraints only a limited number of tableaus can participate in the parade.

“The selection process in vogue leads to the participation of the best tableaus in the parade,” read the statement.

Incidentally, in 2018, Maharashtra had won the best tableau award for its depiction of the coronation of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. This year's theme was: 175 Glorious Years of Marathi Drama.

An official in the department of culture said no solid reason had been cited by the Centre for the rejection. “We were only told, this year our tableau will not be featured in the parade but no reason was given,” the official told The Free Press Journal.

Apart from Maharashtra, West Bengal and Bihar, too, have been denied permission to feature their tableaus in the 70th Republic Day parade. The Bihar government's proposed tableau, based on the theme of 'Jal-Jivan-Haryali mission', launched by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in October 2019 to boost green cover and the groundwater table in the state, too failed to find favour with the Centre.

Sources in Bihar Information Centre, Delhi, confirmed the rejection of Bihar's tableau.

Maharashtra and West Bengal have been vehemently opposing various policies of the BJP-led Central government. In Maharashtra, the ruling BJP was prevented from forming the government by its former ally Shiv Sena, while Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is known for her strident criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Soon after the Centre issued the notification, opposition leaders slammed the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, alleging the move was prejudiced.

All three constituent parties of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government have slammed the Centre for its decision.

Referring to the decision as 'vendetta', Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said the move of the government clearly displays an authoritarian streak.

“The government rejected the tableaus of both Maharashtra and Bengal, forgetting that people of both the states played a pivotal role in India's freedom movement,” said Sawant.

Echoing his statement, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) legislator and spokesperson Nawab Malik said, the Centre's decision is arbitrary, as it has rejected the tableaus of two states which had rejected BJP rule.

“In a democracy disagreements may take place but that doesn't mean the government will cast out any state like this,” said Malik.

Shiv Sena deputy leader and spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi slammed the Centre, stating it had acted in a prejudiced manner. “Republic Day is celebrated across the country. Every state has an equal right to participate in the parade. Ousting two non-BJP ruled states clearly highlights the authoritarian mindset of the Centre,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Maharashtra unit of the BJP has put out a series of tweets, such as: “Gantantra Dinachya Parademadhe Maharashtra ani Paschim Bangalcha chitra-rath nahi, mhanun kahi lok laggech tikechya margee laagle aahet.

Virodhakanchi sarkare aslelya rajyana wagalle mhanun oarad keli zaat aahe. Arthaat vastustithi tyaana soyeeskarpaney zaanun ghyaychi nasael.

@rautsanjay61@supriya_sule (People are ready with barbs over the rejection of Maharashtra and West Bengal's tableaus not being featured in the Republic Day parade, complaining that states with non-BJP governments are being discriminated against, without verifying facts)"

"Entries are requested from 32 states every year, and 16 were selected this year. Only 24 tableaus are featured every year, along with tableaus representing eight ministries of the Central government. This selection process is by rotation."

"To make sure every state gets a chance to participate, a rotational formula is implemented where certain states refrain from participation to make way for others. Maharashtra had no representation in the tableaux march in 1972, 1987, 1989, 1996, 2000, 2005, 2008, 2013, 2016.”

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