Bhubaneswar: It was for the second consecutive year that the tableau of Odisha did not reach the Rajpath stretch at New Delhi on this Republic Day. Unlike the West Bengal government, the Odisha government did not express any opposition, strong or weak, to this decision of the Centre.
For 2022 Republic Day parade, Odisha had sent five proposals, including the Paika Rebellion, the life and times of Chakhi Khuntia and Jay Rajguru, and the developing hockey infrastructure in the state.
Eminent sculptor Gajendra Sahoo, who was in-charge of the design of the tableau, told Orissa POST that the 16-member Central Selection Committee comprising experts from the fields of art, literature, culture, music and design initially liked the theme on the 1817 Paika Rebellion against the company rule in Odisha.
He further said that the same got rejected at the third round. “A new member, perhaps from the ministry of culture, joined the committee during the third round. I’m not sure but perhaps this new member did not like the idea of Paika Vidroha, which was a controversy in Parliament during this time,” Sahoo said.
Significantly, the Centre during the Winter Session of the Parliament had rejected the long standing demand of Odisha to declare Paika Vidroha as the first war of independence.
Union Culture Minister G Kishan Reddy had informed Rajya Sabha that according to the report received from Indian Council of Historical Research, the Paika Rebellion cannot be called as the first war of Independence.
The state information and public relation department, which deals with the design, theme and showcasing of the tableau at the Republic Day parade, said they have not received any communication from the Centre regarding the rejection of the tableau.
“We did not receive any communication from the central government as to why our tableau got rejected,” an official of the I&PR department said.
The department official, however, refused to respond to the questions on why the state government was not raising the issue with the Centre.
A senior official from Union Defence Ministry said when a state government sends a proposal, the expert committee, comprising members from different fields, approves it or gives suggestions to the state on areas of improvement.
He said the committee looks on many aspects while approving the proposal such as the proposal should not be in repetition. However, the official did not give any reason as to why Odisha’s tableau got rejected.
“I won’t be able to comment on why the tableau of Odisha got rejected. No communication means I don’t know. Are they looking for a formal communication?” asked the official, requesting anonymity.
Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party MP Suresh Pujari held the Odisha government responsible for the rejection of the tableau. He said that the state government should maintain cordial relations with the central government on every aspect.
Notably, the state’s tableau in 2020 showing the sculptural magnificence of Lingaraj Temple and the cultural richness of Rukuna Rath was highly appreciated and had also won the second prize. But in 2021, the Centre had rejected Odisha’s tableau themed on the state’s Jagannath and Buddhist cultures.
Upset with the rejection, Gajendra Sahoo said it is really sad for the state, its people living across the country and even outside India.
“People living in other states and out of India, eagerly want to see the glimpses of Odisha’s culture at the Republic Day parade. It is very unfortunate that it got rejected,” Sahoo said.
In 2022, the Centre had also rejected the tableau of West Bengal government which was themed on Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Protesting against the rejection, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting him to reconsider the decision.
TMC had also said that they would protest against the Union government’s decision.