70 years of India's Independence: Kerala turns political battlefield as CPM, RSS spar over Tricolour

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has strongly condemned the CPM-led LDF government in Kerala for ordering that Mohan Bhagwat be stopped from hoisting the National Flag at a school in Palakkad on Independence Day.

Slamming the Pinarayi Vijayan government as ‘repressive and anti-democratic’, the RSS termed the order as an ‘attempt to poison the state with divisive politics’.

 70 years of Indias Independence: Kerala turns political battlefield as CPM, RSS spar over Tricolour

“We condemn such brazen attempts by the CPM-led government to deny citizens their right to celebrate Independence Day,” RSS Akhil Bharatiya Prachar Pramukh, Manmohan Vaidya said.

It is astounding that even after 70 years of Independence, the politics over hoisting the flag continues.

What’s the controversy?

The school is run by the Sangh-affiliated Kannakiamann Educational Society: A trust where the members are swayamsevaks of one of Kerala’s oldest RSS Shakhas.

According to Kannakiamann Educational Society, the Independence Day programme was planned almost two years ago. The RSS Sarsanghchalak Bhagwat was to preside over the Independence Day celebration of the school and hoist the National Flag.

However, according to school sources, the district collector of Palakkad issued an order stating that Bhagawat wouldn’t be allowed to hoist flag in the school.

Ignoring the district administration’s prohibition order, Bhagwat hoisted the Tricolour.

“After hoisting of flag by Mohan Bhagwat ji, we have come to know that the administration has asked education department to take appropriate action against the manager of the trust (president), and the police department to take necessary action against our school principal respectively for allegedly violating the instruction,” B Gangadharan, president, Kannakiamann Educational Society tells Firstpost.

“We informed the district administration, senior officials in the government about our minute-to-minute programme much before Independence Day. No objection was raised then. However, the collector issued a notice at 11 pm on 14 August. We have no clue why this was done as we followed the rules. Let the government tell us whether we have violated any rule or law,” he says.


CPM versus RSS

The tension is palpable.

Though the CPM has termed Bhagwat’s visit an attempt by the RSS to ‘fish in troubled waters’, a letter accessed by the Firstpost shows that the flag hoisting event was planned by the trust in 2015.

The letter

A copy of the letter to the RSS chief.

Meanwhile, Palakkad Lok Sabha member and CPM leader MB Rajesh accused the RSS of trying to foment trouble.

“This is a brazen violation of the law of the land. This school is funded and supported by the Kerala government. Rules and regulations have to be followed,” Rajesh said after Bhagwat hoisted the flag.

The state BJP has challenged the Palakkad collector's decision, stating that there was nothing wrong in Bhagwat hoisting the Tricolour.

“We're not here to play politics. In 2015, during our school’s golden jubilee celebration, we decided to get Bhagwat ji as our guest in the next Independence Day function. . We’re fortunate that he attended,” adds Gangadharan.

“Mohan Bhagwat was invited by the management of Karnakayamman Higher Secondary school, Palakkad, to participate in the golden jubilee celebrations of the school and Independence Day celebrations... The school received a notice from district collector on the night of 14 August. However, no other school had been issued a similar notice. After due consultation, school authorities decided that Sarsanghchalakji must exercise his constitutional rights, He hoisted the flag along with other institutional heads of the school,” Vaidya said in a statement issued by the RSS.

What administration says

The administration says it is inappropriate for a political leader to hoist the National Flag in an aided school and only a teacher or an elected representative of the people is allowed to do so.

However, the Directorate of Public Instruction does not specifically state that only an elected representative of the people or a headmaster is allowed to hoist the flag on school property.

RSS not the only exception

Bhagwat was not the only a non-academic to hoist the Tricolour in a school on Tuesday.

At a school in Thiruvananthapuram, former president of Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee VM Sudheeran reportedly hoisted the National Flag in a school.

“When Sudheeran hoisted the flag there was no objection from the government. No case has been registered, no notice has yet been served against the school management,” a source from Thiruvananthapuram tells Firstpost.

Updated Date: Nov 03, 2017 15:23:34 IST