Months ahead of the state Assembly elections in Karnataka, the Congress-led government pitched the demand for a separate state symbol. The Karnataka government has constituted a nine-member committee to design a 'state' flag — a separate symbolic identity — and to study its constitutional validity, according to The Times of India.
If the state government has its way, Karnataka will be the second Indian state after Jammu and Kashmir, which enjoys a special status under Article 370, to have a separate state flag. However, the demand has triggered a pitched debate on the constitutional validity of the move and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah's motive behind it.
While Congress claimed that the state flag will be symbolic of the Kannada pride, the BJP has accused the state government of whipping up divisive emotions for electoral gains ahead of the Assembly polls.
BJP leader and Union minister Bandaru Dattatreya said that the nation must come first. He, however, added that the people may have some sentiments about it but it is always advisable to promote nationalism. Dattatreya blamed the Congress for using people's sentiments and deepening regional divides for political gains. "There are already so many divisions: regional divides, religious differences, linguistic divides. Why do you want to encourage more such feelings? The Congress is clearly doing it with its eye on the polls," the minister told CNN-News 18.
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on the other hand batted for specific rules to incorporate such demands in a constitutional manner. Tharoor said that he sees no problem in the concept if specific norms are set, like making it mandatory to hoist the state flag below the National Flag. The Congress leader also added that if such demands are accepted and legalised in a systematic way, Jammu and Kashmir having a separate flag, will no longer be such an exception, thereby ruling out the BJP's exception that the demand will set a dangerous precedent.
The demand for a separate flag has not surfaced for the first time. According to a report in Navbharat Times, a similar demand was raised in 2012 also but the then state government led by BJP had opposed the demand, stating that it contradicted the National Flag Code. The BJP had also said that a separate state flag will undermine the idea of a single National Flag and promote regional divides.
Karnataka has recently been in news over anti-Hindi protests over the use of Hindi language on signboards in Bengaluru metro stations — a move that was seen as language imposition. The #NammaMetroHindi Beda campaign which was started in June-end has been seeking the removal of Hindi signboards from all Namma Metro stations as well as stopping of announcements in Hindi in the metro. Several groups have also opposed the three-language policy, in which Hindi translation is provided as the third language, apart from English and the regional language script.
Updated Date: Jul 18, 2017 15:02 PM