Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb has stumbled into yet another controversy, this time by passing balloons around while the National Anthem was being played during an event at Tulakona, about 10 km from Agartala, on Wednesday. A video of the incident is being widely shared on the Internet.
The video shows Mr Deb standing with Union Minister of State for Food Processing Industries Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti and a number of other dignitaries at the launch of a Rs 85-crore food park in the state. Even as the National Anthem begins playing, a man in a white shirt hands a bunch of tricoloured balloons to the Chief Minister. Mr Deb passes them to the union minister, who proceeds to release them into the sky -- spurring one of the participants to break into a grin and clap excitedly.
Meanwhile, the Anthem plays on.
General rules of conduct require the audience to stand in attention while the anthem is being played, although exceptions may be made during a movie or documentary to prevent undue "disorder and confusion".
Mr Deb, who took over as Tripura chief minister last year, has often provoked anger or ridicule with his outrageous comments. Soon after being appointed, he objected to Diana Hayden being chosen for the Miss World crown, saying that she is not the ideal personification of an "Indian beauty". A few months ago, he gave a veritable jolt to those with a background in mechanical engineering by saying that they should not opt for the civil services because that's best left to civil engineers. The most recent gems involve the theory that Internet and satellite communication technology existed in the Mahabharat era, and that ducks can increase aquatic oxygen levels by flapping their wings.
The food park at Tulakona, set up by the Kolkata-based Sikaria Mega Food Park Private Limited, is expected to generate employment for around 30,000 people.