Republic Day celebrated across India amid Covid surge

The 73rd Republic Day was celebrated across India on Wednesday, albeit scaled down because of Covid curbs, with many chief ministers making pledges such as eradication of unemployment in Haryana in two years and five-day week working system for Chhattisgarh government staffers.

Governors and chief ministers extended their greetings to the people on the occasion and called upon them to reaffirm the pledge to uphold the ideals enshrined in the Constitution.

Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren announced that below poverty line families will get a subsidy of Rs 25 per litre for up to 10 litres of petrol per month from Wednesday while his Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar pledged to eliminate unemployment in his state in the next two years.

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Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said a scheme will be launched to provide financial aid to the first two daughters of labourers for their education and employment. He also promised a five-day week working system for state staffers and a hike in the state government’s contribution to the Contributory Pension Scheme from 10 per cent to 14 per cent.

Because of the surge in Covid cases, celebrations had to be whittled down by many aspects.

The main Republic Day celebration in Odisha was sans public participation, Puducherry decided there would be no ‘at home reception’ at the Raj Nivas, West Bengal held a short programme on the Red Road in the heart of Kolkata, while in Tamil Nadu, the Parade on Marina Beachfront lasted 28 minutes.

The observance of the day, when the Constitution of India came into effect in 1950, was, however, not without any gaffe.

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Kerala Minister Ahamed Devarkovil at Kasaragod unfurled the Tricolour upside down, triggering a row with the BJP accusing him of disrespecting the national flag and demanding his resignation.

Later, the minister told reporters that there was no lapse on his side as he had just hoisted the flag when the officials handed him the rope. He said officials have been asked to conduct an inquiry and stringent steps would be taken against those responsible for the lapse.

In Jammu and Kashmir, the national flag was hoisted atop the historic Clock tower in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk, 30 years after veteran BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi did it for the first time.

Social activists Sajid Yousuf Shah and Sahil Bashir Bhat along with dozens of supporters organized the flag hoisting ceremony.

In his speech at the celebrations held at MA Stadium, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha slammed those inciting the people by spreading “rumours” about “imaginary issues” like demographic changes in the union territory and said land reservation has been done on the pattern of mountainous states.

Braving inclement weather, contingents of police and paramilitary forces took part in the event held amid tight security arrangements. A cultural programme was held after the parade.

Internet services on mobile devices were suspended in Kashmir as a precautionary measure, officials said. However, mobile phone services and internet on fixed lines remained unaffected.

In West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee urged the people to take a pledge to protect the basic structure of the Constitution.

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“Heartiest greetings to all on Republic Day. On this day, let us once again take a pledge to protect the basic structure of the Indian Constitution, including and particularly its federal character,” she tweeted.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma said his government has laid the foundation for the state to become one of the top 10 states in India in the next 10 years.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, unfurling the Tricolour at Indore, stressed eradicating alcoholism from the society but stressed that total prohibition cannot be achieved by any government just by banning liquor sale.

For that, a de-addiction campaign will have to be launched, he said.

Goa Governor P S Sreedharan Pillai, in his address to the state after inspecting the ceremonial parade at the Campal Ground in Panaji, made a veiled reference to the Emergency saying the period between 1975-77 was the darkest days” in India’s democracy.

Maharashtra Governor complimented his state for the “remarkable work in last two years” as he mentioned a leadership award won by the state which was given at the UN Climate Change Conference and the Electric Vehicles policy.

Tamil Nadu Governor R N Ravi unfurled the national flag at the Marina Beach front in the presence of Chief Minister M K Stalin as the state government showcased a tableau rejected by a central panel proposed for the grand event in the national capital.

The state government on Tuesday had issued an advisory asking the general public to refrain from visiting the Marina beachfront to watch the event.

Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday joined the country in celebrating the 73rd Republic Day with a large number of school children and security personnel taking out an impressive parade in the state capital to mark the day.

Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal greeted people on the occasion. Baijal also paid homage to martyrs and lauded Corona warriors for their efforts during the pandemic.

Unfurling the Tricolour at Guru Gobind Singh Stadium in Jalandhar Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi recalled the sacrifices of freedom fighters during the Independence movement, saying they envisioned the country free from the maladies of illiteracy, unemployment and inequality.

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