By Prakash Karat
The manner in which the tableaux presented by certain states for the Republic Day parade on January 26 has been rejected by the centre reveals a lot about the mindset of the BJP rulers.
The rejection of the tableaux of the state governments of Kerala, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu shows the deep contempt for federalism and the socio-cultural traditions of the freedom struggle.
The theme of this year’s parade is 75 years of independence. In accordance with that, West Bengal had submitted a tableau depicting the role of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and the Indian National Army (INA) in the freedom struggle. This was rejected. Tamil Nadu had portrayed the prominent freedom fighters from the state like V O Chidambaram, the national poet of the freedom struggle, Subramania Bharathi and others. This too was not found acceptable.
Most shocking was the rejection of the Kerala tableau, which had a statue of Sree Narayana Guru, the great anti-caste fighter and renaissance figure. It is reported that the expert committee wanted a statue of Adi Sankaracharya instead. When the Kerala government stuck to depicting Narayana Guru, the entry was rejected.
How an 8th century AD religious figure, who restored the brahmanical order, is more relevant than an early 20th-century social reformer, who contributed to the renaissance and freedom movement, can only be explained by the Hindutva outlook of the ruling establishment. The insistence by the expert committee to impose Adi Sankaracharya on the Kerala tableau is an insult not only to Sree Narayana Guru but to the entire progressive socio-cultural traditions of Kerala.
In reply to the letters of the West Bengal and Tamil Nadu chief ministers protesting against the exclusion of their state tableaus, the minister of defence, Rajnath Singh, sought to justify that there is a well-established system in place and the tableau selection was fair. According to him, the expert committee doing the selection consists of eminent persons in the field of art, culture, music, architecture and so on. One would like to know who these experts are, who consider Adi Sankaracharya as more relevant to the theme of 75 years of independence in this Republic Day parade.
Rajnath Singh mentions in his letter to the West Bengal chief minister that the Central Public Works Department is also having a tableau paying tribute to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. As if, a department of the central ministry should get precedence over the state of West Bengal, which can be proud of having produced a pre-eminent leader of the independence struggle, like Netaji.
The partisan and sectarian outlook of the Modi government has led to practically the entire south Indian states being non-represented in the tableaus at the Republic Day parade. The motivated rejection of the tableaus of three opposition state governments shows the deep anti-federal attitude of the government. January 26 marks the advent of the Indian Republic and the Constitution which defines India as a Union of States. The Modi government is violating this basic precept of the Constitution. (IPA Service)