Will the Real Republic Day Floats Please Stand Up?


Will the Real Republic Day Floats Please Stand Up?

Illustration: Sushant Ahire

It’s Republic Day, the day on which our forces march before our leaders, global dignitaries, and whoever else has secured a seat with the classic “tu jaanta nahi mera baap kaun hai” gate pass to Rajpath. Of course, Arvind Kejriwal might find it difficult to get an invite, but then again, he’s a chap who’s pretty comfortable camping on the footpath outside in protest. The navy blue sweater and muffler will make its presence felt.

The parade looks the same every year, give or take the thickness of the smog. Frankly, if you play a recording of the parade from any year, it’ll be difficult to tell one apart from the other. The best part of the parade isn’t the show of strength of our armed forces; it is the tradition of the state tableaux that trudge along at regular Delhi traffic speed.

The R-Day floats have featured dancers, enthusiastic gymnasts, people dressed as farmers from the black-and-white days of DD. But times, they are a changin’. What if we decided to be honest with ourselves for once and called a spade a spade.

Here’s floating some new ideas for them:

Kashmir: Kashmir’s float is a no-brainer. It should feature youth pelting stones. If the army has just marched before them, it’ll be like any regular day in the life of Kashmir. Obviously, Pakistan will claim that their Kashmir float is in better condition than ours.

Haryana: On this tableau, women can be seen being harassed with the police playing mere spectators. If you thought that was hard-hitting, how about some gau rakshaks chasing cow traders?  

Punjab: For Punjab, we can go with some men smoking a doob and snorting cocaine while singing, “Ena Vi Na Dope Shope Maareya Karo.” Another option would be to show the peeps of the pind indulging in their favourite winter past-time: Burning crops. This will only contribute some more to Delhi’s smog, and nothing could be more apt, come to think of it. It’ll just add to the R-Day vibe.

The Republic Day parade looks the same every year, give or take the thickness of the smog.

Delhi: How about a small gas chamber? Alternatively, Delhi’s float could also be a Wagon-R with one guy seated inside and tweeting movie reviews while the world outside chokes. Obviously, this tableau will make a U-turn bang in the middle of Rajpath.

Uttar Pradesh: Well… what can one say about our beloved UP? The float needs to be orange, of course. And it needs cows. Lots of cows. Just fill it with cows. They can ruin the traffic, or the parade, it doesn’t matter. But let’s make some space for the anti-Romeo squad too. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, it will have to work really hard to suck the love out of UP.

Bihar: This float needs to be stuffed with chaara. Also. it needs to have a shut bar. And a leader shut behind bars. Who would’ve thought.

West Bengal: This float can simply skip the parade – it can use the excuse of a strike.

The Seven Sisters: Well, do each of the states need to have a float? TBH, we’re always mixing our mekhela chadors with our Naga shawls, and we don’t really remember these states beyond our geography exam, do we? It’s best to ignore them like the rest of India does. And if you still insist on having a float from the North-east, how about a giant momo haha?   

Rajasthan: This is the Tableau of the Year. We propose men vandalising the float, protesting against Padmavati. Or Padmavaat. What’s the film called now? Has anyone kept track?

Kashmir’s float is a no-brainer. It should feature youth pelting stones.

Gujarat: The state can have its own version of Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh with Jignesh Mewani, Hardik Patel, and Alpesh Thakore.

Maharashtra: Honestly, we only care about Mumbai. And it can best be represented by a giant crane in the middle of a pot-holed road with an “Inconvenience Regretted” board.

Goa: This can be “destination wedding on the move” float with some DJ spinning EDM tunes. It will only be fair to have some Russians join the Goa R-Day float. They’ve done more for its economy than some of its elected representatives after all.  

Karnataka: This float is currently stuck at the Silk Board Junction in Bengaluru and has not yet made its way to Delhi.

Kerala: This tableau has likely been banned from the R-Day parade. Its participants may not clear the security check, having been apprehended with dabbas of beef chilli fry.

Tamil Nadu: This will be the most swashbuckling float of the year. Larger-than-life fuchsia cutouts of Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan will grace the stage, which will invariably be broken into two. The Rajini and Haasan camps are likely to start a war over who will be given the first milk abhishekam.  

Andhra Pradesh: The Andhra float can have people eating biryani. What else do people do there anyway? Now that they’ve lost the Charminar to Telangana, they have little to boast about.

Telangana: A scale-model of Charminar.  

Odisha: A scale-model of Biswa Kalyan Rath. Eating an Odisha rosogolla.

Jharkhand: The float will bear a gigantic poster of Newton. That’s the only way we will recognise Jharkhand.  

Madhya Pradesh: The Khajuraho and Jungle Book themes have been exhausted in past years. How about a Vyapam-themed float for this year?