Explained: How tableaux are selected for R-Day parade and what's next for TN's tableau, that was rejected by Centre?

The historical stretch of Rajpath will be missing to spectacle the iconic culture of Tamil Nadu in this year's Republic Day parade after the slugfest between the state and the centre came to an end with the Modi government's rejection of inducting Tamil Nadu's tableau in the parade and Tamil Nadu is not a lone state to face a backlash as it has got a company from the states of Kerala and West Bengal. To be precise, BJP ruling Karnataka is the only southern state that will have its tableau in what would become an unprecedented parade.

India is preparing to celebrate its 73rd Republic Day on January 26, 2022, and the national celebration is going to cast various restrictions owing to the pandemic spread. While the restrictions will mitigate the flood of people gathering on both sides of Rajpath, the rejections of tableaux from the mostly opposition ruled states had sparked nationwide outrage against the Centre and the state governments that faced rejections are either fighting back against the Centre or settling for a new plan. However, the rejections had again brought back the debate on whether the Centre is alienating the traditions and cultures of certain states. 

The Centre's rejection of Tamil Nadu's tableau had spurred tensions in the state and despite exhorting the Centre to induct the state in the parade, MK Stalin's government has lost the race. Tamil Nadu has made tableau under the theme 'Tamil Nadu in the freedom struggle' and the state has submitted three replicas of its tableau. However, all three were rejected by the committee of the Union Defence Ministry. The state has proposed a tableau featuring freedom fighters such as VO Chidambaranar, Mahakavi Bharathiyar, Veeramangai Velu Natchiyar, and Maruthu Brothers. The proposals were rejected by the expert committee. 

How the tableaux are getting selected for the Republic Day parade? 

The Union Ministry of Defence will task an expert committee to come up with the final selection of tableaux that will be part of the parade and this committee will be framing detailed guidelines every year. Each state, Union Territory, and Union Ministry will send proposals and themes every September to prepare their tableaux for the upcoming R-Day parade. 

After receiving the proposals, the committee, which will comprise of nine members from various disciplines, would scrutinize the design of each proposal and the members would give suggestions to the respective states, UTs, and ministries regarding modifications in their tableaux. After this process, the committee will approve the proposal and it will seek three-dimensional models from the states, UTs, and ministries. Once the models are moved, the committee will inspect them and finalize the tableaux's presence in the parade. 

The selection and finalization of tableaux will be based on a combination of several factors, including how the model would create an impact nationally and the idea and theme of the tableaux. The committee will be final call taker and the final list of the selected tableaux will then be forwarded to the Central government for its review. For the current year, the committee has approved the tableau of 12 states and Union territories, which will take part in the parade. 

The twelve states and UTs that will part in this year's parade are Haryana, Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Punjab, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh. In total, 21 tableaux will be part of the parade and while 12 would be from the states and UTs, the rest nine would be from the Union Ministries.

Tamil Nadu's model and how it was treated by the committee:

For this year, Tamil Nadu has presented several designs to the committee and the state had faced rejection at every single round of inspection. According to reports, one of the designs from Tamil Nadu was a ship in which freedom fighter VO Chidambaranar was standing. The model was to highlight the Swadeshi navigation company founded by Chidambaranar to compete against the British rule. During the inspection, the committee has asked Tamil Nadu to modify Chidambaranar's statue and to keep his bust instead, which would not block the rear side view and the committee has even questioned the state whether Chidambaranar is a businessman. 

In another sketch, Tamil Nadu has presented the model of tableau with freedom fighter Subramania Bharati and queen Velu Natchiyar, riding a white horse with a sword. Velu Natchiyar was the first queen to fight against the British rule and the committee has again rejected the tableau and suggested that horse in which Velu Natchiyar was riding should be changed to brown. In another design, the state has presented the model of tableau with the Vellore Mutiny, Vellore Fort, and Maruthu Pandiyar Brothers, the rulers of Sivaganga, who fiercely fought against the British and they were hanged to death. 

The Times of India has reported that upon inspecting this tableau, a committee member has said Maruthu brothers isn't familiar among the national audience and the committee again failed to approve the tableau. Finally, during the last round, Tamil Nadu has made the changes and presented the model with the ship, bust of Chidambaranar, Velu Natchiyar riding a brown horse, and with Maruthu brothers holding swords. As per the suggestion of the committee, the new model had also carried a temple. 

After inspection, the committee has informed to the Tamil Nadu team that they will be called with a three-dimensional model, but the call never came and the committee went on to release the final list of the selected tableaux to the Republic Day parade. The rejection didn't go well among the Tamil people and Chief Minister MK Stalin wrote to the Centre, condemning the rejection. However, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has refused to reconsider the decision of rejecting Tamil Nadu's tableau. He cited that Tamil Nadu has failed to meet prescribed guidelines due to which its tableau was rejected.

The rejected tableau to have a heroic march in Tamil Nadu:

On January 17, MK Stalin has written to the Centre in which he said, "It is a matter of regret and shock that the Union government has not assigned any reason for denying Tamil Nadu the opportunity to be a part of the celebrations in the national capital." He also demanded Prime Minister Narendra Modi's intervention to include Tamil Nadu's tableau in the parade. However, as the sequel of the lack of development in the matter, the Chief Minister has on Tuesday- January 18 announced that the tableau of Tamil Nadu that was rejected by the Union government would be showcased in the state's Republic Day celebrations. He also said that the tableau will be taken across Tamil Nadu for public view so that the people could be able to recall and remember the contributions of the state's freedom fighters.