Why Punjab Turned Down Centre's Offer To Display Tableau At Red Fort Event

Stressing that Punjab's tableau will not be showcased in a "rejected category", Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has said the state's tableau that was not selected for the Republic Day parade will not be displayed at Bharat Parv in Red Fort either.

Why Punjab Turned Down Centre's Offer To Display Tableau At Red Fort Event

Stressing that Punjab's tableau will not be showcased in a "rejected category", Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has said the state's tableau that was not selected for the Republic Day parade will not be displayed at Bharat Parv in Red Fort either.

Amid the political row over Punjab's tableau not making it to the Republic Day parade in Delhi, the Defence Ministry had written to the state government, inviting them to display it during Bharat Parv from January 23 to 31.

"In a statement issued here today, the Chief Minister said that the great martyrs including Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Shaheed Rajguru, Shaheed Sukhdev, Lala Lajpat Rai, Shaheed Udham Singh, Shaheed Kartar Singh Sarabha, Mai Bhago, Ghadri Baabe and others cannot be kept in rejected category. He said that the Union government is trying to belittle their contribution and sacrifice of these heroes by not including their tableaus in the Republic Day parade. Bhagwant Singh Mann said that this cannot be tolerated as it is the grave insult of these great patriots and national leaders," the Chief Minister's office said in a statement.

The Chief Minister said that the state will not send its tableaux "as the martyrs of the country don't need NOC of BJP", the statement said.

"Bhagwant Singh Mann said that the state government don't need support of the union government to showcase their heroes rather it is capable enough to pay tributes to them," it said.

The remark is Mr Mann's latest strike in the tableau row. Earlier, he had accused the Centre of discriminating against Punjab and said that "if they have their way, they will take out the word 'Punjab' from the national anthem".

In response, Punjab BJP chief Sunil Jakhar had accused Mr Mann of politicising the issue. He had claimed that Punjab's tableau was not shortlisted because of its "crude" make. He also alleged that the Aam Aadmi Party government wanted photos of party leader Arvind Kejriwal and Mr Mann on the tableau. This is not allowed as per protocol and is one of the reasons for the tableau's rejection, he said.

This drew a sharp retort from the Chief Minister, who said he would quit politics if the state BJP president can prove his allegation.

"Jakhar should give proof that Arvind Kejriwal or Bhagwant Mann's photos were to be put on the tableau. Do they think we are mad? If Jakhar can prove it, I will quit politics," he said, adding that if he fails, "he should then also not enter Punjab".

"Will (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi now choose which tableau is to be shown and which not," Mr Mann said.

A Defence Ministry source has, meanwhile, said there is a well-established system for the selection of tableaux. "The tableaux proposals received from various States/UTs and Central Ministries/Departments are evaluated in a series of meetings of the "Expert Committee for selection of tableaux comprising eminent persons in the field of art, culture, painting, sculpture, music, architecture, choreography etc. The Expert Committee examines the proposals on the basis of theme, concept, design and its visual impact before making its recommendations," the source said, according to news agency ANI.

For the 2024 Republic Day, the source said, 30 states/Union Territories have shown the willingness to participate, but entries from only 15-16 will be selected.

"The tableau proposal of Punjab was considered in first three rounds of meeting of the Expert Committee. After the third round of meeting, the tableau of Punjab could not be taken forward by the Expert Committee for further consideration for not aligning to the broader themes of this year's tableau," the source said.

The source also noted that the tableau of Punjab has been shortlisted for the Republic Day parade six times in the last eight years.

Following the Defence Ministry's explanation, AAP spokesperson Malvinder Singh Kang said Mr Jakhar now "stands exposed".

"The Ministry of Defence's clarification on the exclusion of Punjab's tableau in the Republic Parade reveals the truth. Mr Jakhar's attempt to mislead Punjab, alleging the rejection was due to photos of Kejriwal ji and Mann Saab, now demands accountability. Where are the alleged designs carrying the pictures of Kejriwal Ji & Mann Saab, Mr Jakhar?" he asked.