Mrunal Manmay Dash

Several Paika organisations demonstrated in front of the Raj Bhawan in Bhubaneswar on Thursday protesting the rejection of Odisha’s tableau at the Republic Day Parade in New Delhi this year.

The Odisha government had sent six tableau designs to the Expert Committee under the Union Ministry of Defence for consideration – Paika Revolution and Buxi Jagabandhu, Krushna Chandra Gajapati and Chakhi Khuntia, Freedom Fighter Veer Surendra Sai, Development After Independence, Odisha and Hockey, Odisha and Natural Disasters.

As per reports, only the design of Paika Revolution could pass the initial three rounds and reached the final round. However, the design was rejected in the fourth round. Though the reason for the rejection is still unclear, it is alleged that the Odisha tableau got the red signal over a trivial ground.

Venting his anger, the president of the Odisha Paika Academy, Dillip Srichandan said, “The selection committee rejected our tableau over a non-issue. This is an insult to the glorious history of Odisha.”

With this, Odisha will not have its own tableau to showcase at the Republic Day Parade for two years in a row. Its designs were rejected in 2021 too.

Congress MLA Suresh Routray was furious over the issue. Speaking to reporters, Routray said, “While other states have already written letters to the PM demanding to include their tableau in the parade, the Odisha government is yet to lodge a formal complaint with the Centre.”

Asked about the allegations, Biju Janata Dal spokesperson, Lenin Mohanty said, “This is a subject above party politics. All the political parties should get together to protest this injustice by the Centre.”

It is pertinent to mention here that, like Odisha, the Expert Committee has also rejected tableaux from West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, prompting a slew of attacks on the Centre from the respective Chief Ministers.

On January 16, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the Centre decided to exclude the state's tableau from the Republic Day parade this year. A day later, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin sought the Prime Minister's "urgent intervention to arrange to include the tableau of Tamil Nadu" that showcases the freedom fighters of the state.

Replying to the complaints by these states, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman clarified that for this year's Republic Day, the Centre had received 56 proposals of which 21 were shortlisted. Existing criteria and proposals for selection were scrupulously followed, she added.

The rejection of Paika-themed tableau proposed by Odisha bears significance because the Centre had rejected Odisha’s proposal to identify the Paika Vidroha as the First War of Indipendence last year.

The ‘Paika Bidroha’, which took place 40 years before the 1857 Sepoy Uprising, involved peasants who fought the British after their economic structure was challenged.

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