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Republic Day parade to see 'grandest and largest' flypast ever

In a letter to Narendra Modi on Sunday, Mamata Banerjee had said she was 'shocked and hurt' at the Centre’s decision to 'abruptly exclude' Bengal’s tableau
Commandos march during the rehearsal for the upcoming Republic Day parade  in New Delhi on Monday.
Commandos march during the rehearsal for the upcoming Republic Day parade in New Delhi on Monday.
PTI Photo

Imran Ahmed Siddiqui   |   New Delhi   |   Published 18.01.22, 01:19 AM

Rajpath will on January 26 witness the Indian Air Force’s tributes to the Bangladesh war but not Bengal’s homage to Netaji and his troops, Tamil Nadu’s celebration of its freedom fighters, or Kerala’s salute to social reformer Sree Narayana Guru.

This year’s Republic Day parade will see the “grandest and largest” flypast ever, with 75 aircraft participating to commemorate the 75 years of Independence and featuring the Tangail formation and Meghna formation in a nod to the 1971 Liberation War.


But a political row has broken out over the rejection of Bengal’s proposed tableau, which would have commemorated Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and his Indian National Army on the occasion of his 125th birth anniversary on January 23.

Also nixed were the proposed floats of at least two other Opposition-ruled states: Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday, Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had said she was “shocked and hurt” at the Centre’s decision to “abruptly exclude” Bengal’s tableau. She urged Modi to reconsider the decision.

Tamil Nadu chief minister M.K. Stalin on Monday tweeted: “It is deeply disappointing to note that the tableau of Tamil Nadu depicting V.O. Chidambaranar, Mahakavi Bharathiyar, Rani Velu Nachiyar and Maruthu Brothers – the renowned freedom fighters from Tamil Nadu — is excluded from the #Republic Day Parade, 2022.”

At night, defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman posted a tweet denying any politics behind the rejections, asserting that the Union public works department’s tableau featured Netaji, and highlighting the inclusion of the floats of Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu in previous years. She did not explain why this year’s proposals by the three states had been shot down.

“States, GoI ministries & PSUs send proposals for #RepublicDay tableaux every year. The duration of Parade itself is limited. An Expert Committee of eminences from the arts shortlist from those received. For RD (Republic Day) 2022, GoI received 56 proposals; 21 were shortlisted,” Sitharaman tweeted.

“Existing criteria and proposals for selection were scrupulously followed. Since @narendramodi became @PMOIndia: 2018 & 2021: Kerala’s tableau selected. 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020 & 2021: Tamil Nadu selected. 2016, 2017, 2019 & 2021: West Bengal selected.

“Incidentally, this year the tableau of @CPWDGOV includes Netaji Subhash (sic) Chandra Bose. Stop seeing bad politics in a display that celebrates India.”

A defence ministry official said the proposed tableaus have to clear three rounds of scrutiny by a committee that includes eminent people from the worlds of art, music, architecture, choreography and the like.

The committee examines the theme, concept, design and visual impact, with particular emphasis on three parameters: national integration, international branding and aesthetic value.

“The proposals of Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala were rejected by the committee after due process and deliberations,” the official said.

On Monday, the Indian Air Force (IAF) said: “The flypast this year will be the grandest and largest with 75 aircraft from IAF, Army, and Navy flying during the Republic Day parade.”

It said the flypast would include the Tangail formation “which will have one Dakota and two Dornier flying in Vic formation”.

This is a tribute to the Tangail airdrop of special forces for a crucial mission during the 1971 war. A Chinook and four Mi-17 helicopters will hold themselves in the Meghna formation to commemorate another highlight of the war.

The flypast will begin with the Dhawaj formation with four Mi-17 aircraft, followed by the Rudra and Rahat formations with four and five advanced light helicopters, respectively.

Among other aircraft to be displayed at the parade will be Rafale jets, the Indian Navy’s MiG29K surveillance aircraft, and Jaguar fighter jets.

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