New Delhi: Kerala will have no representation in the procession of floats during the upcoming Republic Day celebrations in the national capital on January 26. Incidentally, among the 12 states which will present their floats this time, as many as nine are ruled by the BJP, which is also in power at the Centre. The only non-BJP states selected for the procession are Punjab, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh.
Kerala's proposal was rejected at the final round of selection after a dispute arose between the state and the Defence Ministry, which is in charge of the parade. While the Central Ministry wanted a tableau depicting Adi Sankaracharya, who propounded the Adwaita philosophy, Kerala insisted on one presenting social reformer and spiritual leader Sree Narayana Guru. The dispute could not be settled, leading to Kerala's proposal being rejected.
Moreover, while the Centre had suggested religious themes for the floats, Kerala wanted secular subjects. A section of the Defence Ministry jury which selected the floats pointed out that Sankara and Narayana Guru represented different ideologies. According to them, Sankara had united the country.
Kerala's other choices
Earlier, Kerala had suggested themes such as Jadayu Rock, which has the world's biggest bird statue; women empowerment programmes, including Kudumbashree; startups and handicrafts for its float. Among them, the jury found Jadayu Rock interesting. However, it wanted the model of the temple to be placed in front of the float. This suggestion was rejected by Kerala.
Centre allowed both
Later, the Centre wanted a statue of Adi Sankara at the front portion of the vehicle carrying the tableau. Kerala, instead, said that Narayana Guru would be ideal. The state and Centre engaged in three rounds of discussions over this matter. Finally, the Centre said that statues of Sankara as well as Narayana Guru may be displayed. But, Kerala did not agree and it failed to find a place in the final list of states presenting floats on Republic Day.
During Kerala’s previous appearance at the parade, it had focused on coir. The state had won the prize for the best float in 2014 by presenting a houseboat.
Sivagiri Mutt registers protest
The rejection of Kerala’s proposal for a tableau depicting Sree Narayana Guru has invited protests from Sivagiri Mutt at Varkala, a monastery founded by the saint.
President of the Sree Narayana Dharma Sangham Trust Swami Sachidananda said that the Mutt respects Adi Sankara as the leading light on Adwaita philosophy, but pointed out that Sree Narayana Guru has earned the respect of all sections of society in Kerala.