Breaking his silence over the controversy that erupted after the non-inclusion of Punjab’s tableau in the Republic Day parade at New Delhi, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Wednesday said that the state’s sacrifices in the freedom struggle were ignored when the Centre rejected its tableau.
Slamming the BJP Government at the Centre for the same, Mann said that this “anti-Punjab” stance of the Union Government is unwarranted and undesirable.
“Every year, Republic Day parade celebrations include a spectacular ceremonious parade, which is a tribute to India, its unity in diversity, and its rich cultural heritage through various states’ tableaus. The state of Punjab has also been regularly featuring in the tableau parade showcasing the critical importance of this border state with its rich history, colourful and vibrant culture, and pivotal point for defining events which shaped the history of the great nation,” said Mann.
He added, “It is a matter of great disappointment that this year, despite the presentation of ideas to the selection committee on important themes like Watan Ke Rakhwale – emphasizing the significant role of Punjab in India’s military might and annadata; Nari Shakti – through the valour of Mai Bhago ji; and the revered events in history of freedom struggle along with tales of bravery and supreme sacrifices through Battle of Saragarhi, Punjab’s tableau has not been selected for the Republic Day parade.”
The Chief Minister said that though the selection committee even appreciated the ideas, it is disheartening that the people of this great country along with the whole world will be bereft from the rich cultural and historical tribute, which Punjab will have showcased.
“Punjabis had made enormous sacrifices to free our motherland from its yoke of British imperialism. Despite of being merely two percent of the country’s population, 80 percent of the martyrs, either executed or exiled during the freedom movement, were Punjabis,” he added.
The Chief Minister said that even after independence, the Punjabis have been instrumental in the prosperity and overall development of the country besides safeguarding the borders of the nation from external aggressions. “The State Government wanted to showcase this stellar role of Punjabis in the freedom struggle through the tableau,” said Mann, bemoaning that the Union Government had hatched a conspiracy by not allowing Punjab to showcase its achievements to the world.
The Chief Minister lamented that though the country is celebrating 75th year of its independence, “due to reasons best known to them, the Union Government is skeptical of those patriots who have steered the country to freedom. This reflects the BJP-led Government’s myopic mindset…BJP Government is probably hesitant to reflect Punjab’s contribution in the national freedom struggle”.
Pointing out, he said: “It is ironical that only BJP-ruled states have been allowed to participate in the Republic Day parade from North India. The non-BJP ruled states, especially Punjab and Delhi, have been deliberately kept out of the parade by the BJP.”
“This type of discriminatory treatment with Punjab and Punjabis is highly condemnable and intolerable,” he added.