After 13 years,Bengal back at R-Day parade with Tagore

It will re-create Shantiniketan,with the theme song being Tagore’s “Neel digante oi phooler agun laglo (Flowers light up the azure horizon)”.

Written by Avishek G Dastidar | New Delhi | Published:January 25, 2012 12:25 am

After over a decade,West Bengal has sent a tableau to participate in the state procession at the Republic Day parade,ending the previous Left Front government’s policy of staying away from the event.

In 1999,a year after the Pokharan nuclear test,the Jyoti Basu government had drawn a plan to send a tableau highlighting nuclear non-proliferation — a move eventually prevented by South Block amid much acrimony.

This year,Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee,though,has chosen a rather innocuous theme of Rabindranath Tagore and universal harmony. Sources said the tableau is slated to lead the parade.

It will re-create Shantiniketan,with the theme song being Tagore’s “Neel digante oi phooler agun laglo (Flowers light up the azure horizon)”.

But West Bengal’s participation this year was not without initial hiccups. Officials said the screening committee of the Ministry of Defence had asked West Bengal to come up with five more Tagore songs to ultimately replace the selected song.

The committee had insisted on the popular song “Aji Basanta Jagrata dwaare (Spring is at the doorstep)”.

But following deliberations,Mamata’s government insisted that “Neel digante…” should be the final choice and that if the state was not allowed its “creative freedom”,it could even lead to another year of non-participation.

Sources said some senior ministers in the government felt the song’s reference to flowers lighting up the sky had somewhat political connotations (Grass-flower is the Trinamool Congress’s electoral symbol). West Bengal Resident Commissioner’s officer,however,felt that their choice of the song was best suited to the theme.

“We told the government that our Chief Minister herself is a poet and a writer. So if she has selected a song,it means the song is apt for the occasion,” said Ullas Chattopadhyay,spokesperson for the West Bengal’s Resident Commissioner’s office.

Last time the Left wanted to send a tableau,the Vajpayee government had rejected the theme of nuclear non-proliferation.

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