Tableaux row: Rajnath writes to Stalin, Mamata; says selection as per norms and in transparent manner

Rajnath Singh
Rajnath Singh addressing soldiers at an event in a forward location on the second day of his Ladakh visit. Photo: Twitter/Rajnath Singh

New Delhi: Selection of tableaux for the Republic Day parade has been done as per the prescribed norms and in an extremely transparent manner, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh told Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday, in response to their complaints to Prime Minister Narender Modi about the exclusion of their states' models.

In separate letters to the two CMs explaining the selection process of the tableaux, the defence minister said it was through this process that tableaux of their states were selected to participate in previous Republic Day parades, including in 2017 and 2019.

Also on Tuesday, senior Defence Ministry officials clarified that the decision to exclude the tableaux of Kerala, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu at the Republic Day parade 2022 (RDP-2022) will not be revised.

As per defence ministry officials, tableaux of Arunachal Pradesh, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand will be shown at RDP-2022.

In a letter to Modi, Stalin on Monday said the rejection of the state's tableau was "disappointing" and would deeply hurt the sentiments and patriotic feelings of the people of Tamil Nadu.

A day before that Banerjee had shot off a letter to Modi saying she was "profoundly shocked and hurt" by the Centre's decision to abruptly exclude the West Bengal's tableau -- themed on freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and his Indian National Army -- without assigning any reasons or justification.

In his letter to Banerjee, Singh told her that the Central Public Works Department's tableau float for the occasion pays homage to Bose on his 125th birth anniversary.

"I would like to assure you that the process of selection of tableaux that participate in RDP is extremely transparent," Singh stated.

Noting that the expert committee comprises eminent persons from the various fields such as arts, culture, music and choreography, Singh told Banerjee that "it is through this selection process that West Bengal's tableau was selected to participate in RDP-2016, RDP-2017, RDP-2019 and RDP-2021."

He also reminded her about the importance the Narendra Modi government attached to Bose.

"Our government had celebrated in 2018 with great fanfare the 75th anniversary of the government Netaji formed in exile in 1943. It was our government which included the living soldiers of the Azad Hind Fauj (Indian National Army) in the Republic Day Parade and felicitated them," he stated.

Responding to Stalin, the defence minister said the proposal from Tamil Nadu was considered in the first three rounds of selection meetings but could not make it into the final list of 12 tableaux selected for participation in the RDP-2022.

"There exists a well-established system for selection of tableaux for participation in the Republic Day parade, as per which, the Ministry of Defence invites proposals for tableaux from all states/union territories and central ministries/departments," Singh said.

The tableaux proposals received from various states, union territories, central ministries and departments are evaluated in a series of meetings of an expert committee comprising eminent persons in the field of art, culture, painting, sculpture, music, architecture, choreography, etc, the minister added.

"The expert committee examines the proposals on the basis of theme, concept, design and its visual impact before making its recommendations," he noted.

As per the time slot allotted for tableaux in the overall duration of the parade, shortlisting of tableaux is done by the expert committee, he mentioned.

For RDP-2022, a total of 29 proposals were received from states and union territories including from Tamil Nadu, he said.

"The tableaux from the state government of Tamil Nadu was considered in the first three rounds of meetings. After the third round of meeting, the tableaux could not make it into the final list of 12 tableaux selected for participation in the RDP-2022," Singh stated.

Singh also noted that the tableaux from Tamil Nadu has been selected for participation in RDP-2017, RDP-2019, RDP-2020 and RDP-2021.

"In view of the above details, you would appreciate that the selection of tableaux is as per the prescribed guidelines on the matter," he mentioned.

Senior defence ministry officials said along with models of 12 selected states, tableaux of nine ministries and departments of the Central government will be shown at this year's parade.

These nine tableaux would be Education and Skill Development, Civil Aviation, Communications and Posts, Home Affairs, Housing, Textiles, Law and Justice, Jal Shakti and Culture, they added.

Apart from West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, the Kerala government had on Friday protested the exclusion of its tableau depicting social reformer Sree Narayana Guru.

Meanwhile, TMC Secretary General and West Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee reacted sharply to the defence minister's letter and tweets by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman highlighting that an expert committee of eminent personalities shortlists the tableau proposals sent by states, central ministries and public sector units.

"The Centre has hurt the dignity of Bengal, which has been the frontrunner of the freedom movement and is the birthplace of Netaji....So much effort and research went behind the tableau but it has been summarily rejected without any reason because of political considerations. They have ignored the history of freedom struggle which is incomplete without Bengal," he said.

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