In what could lead to fresh tensions between West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the Narendra Modi-led government, the Defence Ministry on Wednesday rejected her state’s Republic Day tableau proposal, PTI reported.
“The tableau proposal of the government of West Bengal was examined by the expert committee in two rounds of meetings,” the ministry said in a statement. “The tableau proposal of government of West Bengal was not taken forward for further consideration by the expert committee after deliberations in the second meeting.”
Twenty-two proposals comprising 16 states and union territories and six ministries/departments have been shortlisted for the parade. The committee shortlisted these from a total of 56 tableau proposals – 32 from states/Union Territories and 24 from various Central ministries and departments – received by the government.
“The committee examines the proposals on the basis of theme, concept, design and its visual impact before making its recommendations,” the statement added. “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 participation of the best tableau in the parade.”
The ministry pointed that the Bengal government’s tableau was shortlisted for the 2019 Republic Day parade through a similar process.
The ruling Trinamool Congress in its proposal had laid down its plan to decorate the tableau with themes of Kanyasree, Sabujsree and Jal Dharo, Jal Bharo, according to The Telegraph.
Trinamool Congress hits out at Centre
Party MP Saugata Roy criticised the ministry’s decision to reject Bengal, Hindustan Times reported. “To exclude Bengal would be gross discrimination,” he said. “Bengal represents a rich heritage and its exclusion shows the partisanship of the Modi-Shah duo.”
West Bengal Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Tapas Roy claimed on Thursday that the Centre has a “vindictive attitude” towards the state, PTI reported. “Just because West Bengal has been opposing anti-people policies of the BJP government, a step-motherly treatment is being meted out to the state,” he told the news agency. “As we have opposed anti-people laws like CAA [Citizenship Amendment Act], the Centre has rejected our tableau proposal.”
Roy added that this was not the first time Bengal’s tableau proposal has been rejected. He said that such “cheap politics” will not deter the Trinamool Congress government from opposing the Bharatiya Janata Party’s anti-people policies.
West Bengal Chief Minister Banerjee has been a vocal critic of the BJP government. She has repeatedly reiterated that she will not allow the Citizenship Amendment Act to be implemented in the state.
However, the West Bengal BJP hit back at the Trinamool Congress. State BJP chief Dilip Ghosh said the tableau was rejected as the state government did not properly follow the rules and procedures in submitting the proposal. He also asked the Trinamool Congress to “stop doing politics on each and every issue”.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations on January 26.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims. There have been widespread protests against the Act, resulting in the deaths of at least 26 people.