Taking a hard stand against the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre, the Telangana government has decided not to participate in the Republic Day tableau parade in 2016, or even thereafter.
The decision comes on the back of the ministry of defence rejecting three tableau models showcasing Telangana's culture and heritage that were presented before it. "There is no point pressing it when they want to eliminate us. Better not try when the rejection is imminent for reasons not justified and when the same principle is not seemed to be applicable to all. The state government has decided not to send any tableau in future," said Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) floor leader in the Lok Sabha AP Jitender Reddy.
Ironically, this is the second time the youngest state is facing such an attitude from the Centre. The selection committee headed by a joint secretary in the defence ministry had rejected Telangana's tableau for the Republic Day parade of 2015 too. But since it was the first Republic Day after Telangana was formed, the TRS government had made a special request. It was only after a Jithender Reddy-led delegation of Telangana MPs and MLAs met defence minister Manohar Parrikar, that the selection committee agreed to include the tableau. The tableau, themed on Bonalu, finally made it to Rajpath on Republic Day.
"We were particular about taking part in the 2015 parade since we wanted to announce to the world the birth of the state. It was significant since US president Barack Obama was the chief guest and it was important for us to send the message across. But we can't go on begging year after year and don't want to give them an opportunity to do so anymore," said V Subhash, director of the Telangana Information & Public Relations department.
The Telangana government is particularly miffed as the selection committee, reportedly, dubbed the concepts of the tableaus "sub-standard." The state had sent three designs: Sammakka Sarakka Jatara, a tribal festival celebrated in Warangal, Sammakka Sarakka Jatara, a Nataraja dance form, and Bathukamma, a floral folk festival. While the selection committee had given 'in-principle approval' to the concepts initially, none of these were shortlisted. "It is strange that the concepts were rejected when the same were approved in three meetings of the selection committee. Everyone liked Sammakka Sarakka Jatara, in particular," said Jitender Reddy.
Reddy also lamented the fact that the selection committee had shown no courtesy to inform the state government about the status of the selection process. "We are just hearing that our tableau models have been rejected, without any formal communication on that," said Navin Mittal, commissioner and secretary of the information & PR department of the Telangana government.
After the Telangana government sent the model designs in October this year, the selection committee met thrice and there was no word of rejection. However, on December 10 some members of the selection committee informally told Telangana information department officials that the state's tableau had not been selected. The reason cited was that the concepts were not up to the standards. "We can see a tendency of looking down upon our culture in the move. And you know, this is not the first time," said Subhash.
On the other hand, Andhra Pradesh officials said the design they sent on capital Amaravati had been shortlisted and they were preparing the 3-D model of the same. "Our Amaravati model has been selected for the final round. We will start preparing the 3-D model on Monday," said P Kiran Kumar, additional director of AP government's Information & PR department. "However, official communication from the selection committee is awaited," he added.