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Tamil Nadu CM writes to PM Modi as Republic Day tableau row intensifies

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New Delhi/Chennai, Jan 17: The controversy over the rejection of the Republic Day parade tableaux of some states intensified on Monday with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin joining his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee in seeking Prime Minister Narendra Modi's immediate intervention.

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While some leaders from the non-BJP ruled states including Kerala alleged that it was an ''insult'' by the Centre, sources at the Union government rejected the charge and decried the ''wrong precedent'' by chief ministers to portray the outcome of an objective process carried by an expert committee as a ''flashpoint'' between the Centre and the states.

Stressing that the shortlist was not prepared by the Centre, they said the proposals of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal were rejected by the subject expert committee after due process and deliberations.

A total of 56 proposals had come from states and central ministries. Out of these, 21 were shortlisted and a similar process of selection is adopted every year, the sources said and added that tableaux from these states have been approved multiple times in the past under the Modi government. In a letter to the prime minister, Stalin said that excluding the Tamil Nadu tableau would deeply hurt the sentiments and patriotic feelings of the people of the state.

Terming it as a ''matter of grave concern to Tamil Nadu and its people,'' he sought the prime minister's ''urgent intervention to arrange to include the tableau of Tamil Nadu'' that will showcase the freedom fighters of the state in the Republic Day parade 2022 in New Delhi.

This came a day after Banerjee shot off a letter to Modi expressing shock over the exclusion of West Bengal's tableau, which focussed on Subhas Chandra Bose on his 125th birth anniversary year, and said such a move would cause ''pain'' to the people of her state.

Banerjee said that exclusion of the tableau, which also featured other icons like Rabindranath Tagore, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo, ''amounts to belittling and undermining the freedom fighters''.

Her Trinamool Congress party accused the BJP-led central government of ''repeatedly'' and ''systematically'' insulting ''our history, culture and pride''. Senior BJP leader Tathagata Roy also urged Prime Minister Modi on Monday to allow West Bengal's tableau but made it clear that his request should not be interpreted as extending support to Trinamool Congress' "petty politics".

The Congress has expressed its dismay over the developments, with its leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury writing to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday.

Chowdhury said the decision was an ''insult'' to the people of West Bengal, its cultural heritage and Bose. However, central government sources denounced efforts to link the issue with regional pride and to project it as an insult to the people of the state.

''This script also plays out almost every year. This is a wrong precedent adopted by CMs of states to portray an outcome of an objective process as a flashpoint between the Centre and the states,'' a central government functionary said.

This goes a long way in harming the country's federal structure, he said, adding that these chief ministers have perhaps ''no positive agenda of their own that they have to resort to the same old trick using misinformation year after year''.

The tableau proposals received from various states and central ministries are evaluated in a series of meetings of the expert committee comprising of eminent people in the field of art, culture, sculpture, music, architecture and choreography among others, the sources said. The committee examines the proposals on the basis of theme, concept, design and visual impact before making its recommendations.

Due to time constraints, only some of the proposals can be accepted, they added. It should be, however, noted that the tableau proposals of Kerala were accepted through the same process and system under the same Modi government in 2018 and 2021, and those of Tamil Nadu in 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020 and 2021.

The tableau proposals of West Bengal were accepted in 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2021, they said. With this year's tableau of the Central Public Works Department, which comes under the central government, including Bose in its theme, any question of his insult does not even arise, the sources said. The Kerala government had on Friday protested the exclusion of its tableau depicting social reformer Sree Narayana Guru. V Sivankutty, the state education minister had asked Kerala BJP to state whether they agree with ''this insulting attitude towards Kerala's Guru''.

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