The Centre’s decision to reject the Maharashtra government’s Republic Day tableau proposal has sparked off a political controversy. The Maha Vikas Aghadi – the alliance of Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress – on Thursday accused the Centre of acting “vengeful” with “mala fide intention”.

The state cultural affairs department had suggested four themes, but all of them were rejected by the government, according to Hindustan Times.

“The Centre has rejected permissions to the tableaux of Maharashtra and West Bengal from parading on Republic Day,” Nationalist Congress Party MP Supriya Sule tweeted. “It is a festival of the country and the Centre is expected to give representation to all the states. But the government is behaving in a prejudiced manner, giving step-motherly treatment to the states being ruled by the Opposition parties.”

The MP said both Maharashtra and West Bengal have played a major role in India’s freedom struggle that the action is an insult to people of these states.

Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut attacked the Centre and asked whether there was any political conspiracy behind this decision. “Maharashtra’s tableau has always remained the centre of attraction and has even won first prize on various occasions,” he said in a tweet. “Would BJP have remained silent had it happened in the Congress regime?” Raut asked.

Maharashtra’s Bharatiya Janata Party unit said those criticising the Centre are purposely hiding the facts. “The selection tableaux is on rotation basis,” the state BJP unit said in a series of tweets. “Every year 32 states file applications from which 16 states are chosen. With addition of eight tableaux from departments of central government, a total of 24 tableaux are permitted every year.”

It claimed that Maharashtra’s tableau has been rejected earlier in 1972, 1987, 1989, 1996, 2000, 2005, 2008, 2013 and 2016. “Except for two years, rest were Congress ruled years. Why is it being said that Modi ji rejected Maharashtra and West Bengal,” the party asked.

Reports also said the Bihar government’s proposed tableau was also rejected as it did not fulfill the necessary criteria.

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 ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal castigated the Centre’s decision to reject the state’s Republic Day tableau proposal on Thursday, saying such “cheap politics” will not deter them from opposing the Bharatiya Janata Party’s anti-people policies.