Explained: Why Republic Day tableaux of Punjab, West Bengal got rejected
The Defence Ministry states that the exclusions were based on alignment with the parade's "broader theme," as determined by an impartial expert committee. Despite claims of bias, the Centre asserts a fair evaluation process and invites non-selected states to showcase their tableaux in Bharat Parv as part of inclusive celebrations.
The Centre has responded to allegations of discrimination after rejecting the Republic Day 2024 tableaux from Delhi, Punjab, and West Bengal, asserting that the decisions were based on the alignment with the "broader theme" of this year's celebratory parade. The Defence Ministry clarified the exclusion, stating that proposals from states and Union territories underwent rigorous review by an "expert committee" comprised of individuals from various artistic domains. The Centre emphasized that the rejection was impartial and not influenced by bias.
While Punjab's tableau proposal was considered in the initial three rounds of expert committee meetings, it was ultimately rejected for failing to align with the designated theme. Similarly, West Bengal's submissions faced rejection for identical reasons, sources said.
The expert committee, assembled by the Centre for Tableau Examination, includes eminent figures from the fields of arts, culture, painting, music, architecture, choreography, sculpture, and more.
Sources revealed that for Republic Day Parade 2024, 30 states/UTs expressed their willingness to participate, including Punjab and West Bengal. However, as is the norm, only 15-16 states/UTs will be chosen to present their tableaux in the Republic Day Parade. States not selected are invited to showcase their tableaux in Bharat Parv at Red Fort, New Delhi, from January 23 to 31, 2024, as part of inclusive celebrations.
Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann had previously accused the BJP-led central government of discrimination against states ruled by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Mann asserted that akin to last year, Punjab's tableau for Republic Day would be excluded, reflecting what he described as the Centre's "poison" against the people of Punjab. Both Mann and Delhi Health Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj attributed the Centre's actions to their AAP-led governments, stating that Delhi and Punjab were consistently targeted.
However, sources revealed, "The Expert Committee considered Punjab's tableau proposal in the first three rounds of meetings. Unfortunately, after the third round, the Expert Committee decided not to advance Punjab's tableau for further consideration, citing a lack of alignment with this year's broader themes. Similarly, West Bengal's tableau proposal underwent consideration in the initial two rounds of Expert Committee meetings. However, after the second round, the Expert Committee chose not to progress West Bengal's tableau for further consideration due to a mismatch with the broader themes of this year's tableau."
The Ministry of Defence emphasized that the Expert Committee had previously shortlisted six tableaux from Punjab and five from West Bengal between 2016 and 2022, and in the last eight years, respectively.
"Over the past few years, the Expert Committee has shortlisted Punjab's tableau for the Republic Day Parade from 2017 to 2022 (six times in the last eight years) and West Bengal's tableau in 2016, 2017, 2019, 2021, and 2023 (five times in the last eight years), following the same procedure as outlined in paragraph 2 above," the sources added.