CM Mann rubbishes BJP claim that he wanted R-Day tableau to display his, Kejriwal's photos

The Punjab CM said the Centre does not want tableaux that depict Punjab's rich culture and contribution of Punjabis to the freedom struggle

Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann (left) with Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal (photo: National Herald archives)
Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann (left) with Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal (photo: National Herald archives)


A day after he was accused of intending to use the state tableau for personal promotion, Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann on Friday said he would quit politics if state BJP chief Sunil Jakhar proved his accusation, dismissing as a lie Jakhar's assertion that the government wanted the Republic Day parade tableau to carry Mann's and Arvind Kejriwal's photos.

The CM said when Jakhar made these allegations at a press conference on Thursday, he was stuttering "like only a liar would do". He, however, added that he has sympathy for Jakhar, who recently joined the BJP and had to "read out the script that was given to him."

Jakhar had accused Mann of politicising the non-inclusion of the state's tableau for the Republic Day parade in Delhi, and alleged that the state's Aam Aadmi Party government had insisted that the tableau carry Mann and Kejriwal's images, which was one of the reasons why it was excluded from the Republic Day event.

"The AAP government was adamant that Kejriwal and Bhagwant Mann's photos should be on it, which is not allowed as per protocol. This was one of the reasons for the rejection of the Punjab tableau," Jakhar had said.

Mann, who was interacting with reporters in Ludhiana, said "Jakhar should give proof that Arvind Kejriwal or Bhagwant Mann's photos were to be put on the tableau. Do they think we are mad? If Jakhar can prove it, I will quit politics," Mann said, adding that if he fails "he should then also not enter Punjab."

Referring to Jakhar's claim that in the past 17 years, there have been nine occasions when Punjab's tableau was not included in the Republic Day parade, Mann said it was strange why the BJP, which had shared power in the state with the Akalis, did not object to it.

Now that it has been "rejected", the Punjab tableau will be taken to Punjab Bhawan in Delhi on 20 January "and we will take it out on Delhi roads every day," the CM said.

Mann said the entire world wants to see Punjab's rich culture and the contribution of Punjabis to India's freedom struggle, but the Centre does not want tableaux that depict this, or those that display images of freedom fighters like Bhagat Singh, Lala Lajpat Rai, and Udham Singh. "Will Modi now choose which tableau is to be shown and which not?" he said.

On Wednesday, Mann had slammed the BJP-led Centre for not including the state's tableau in the Republic Day parade, calling it a step toward removing the word Punjab from the national anthem. "If they have their way, they will take out the word 'Punjab' from the national anthem Jana Gana Mana," Mann had told reporters.

Mann had said like last year, this time too, Punjab's tableau was not going to be part of the Republic Day parade on 26 January. "The Centre has discriminated against Punjab," Mann said.

Jakhar had said it was unfortunate that Mann chose to "politicise" the issue. "Punjab is a border state, a sensitive state, and the chief minister is trying to whip up sentiments with his claim that the Centre discriminated against Punjab," Jakhar had said.

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