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Constitution doesn’t prohibit state flag: Committee tells Karnataka govt

The committee submitted its report on Monday although, unofficially, a yellow and red flag called Kannada flag, has been hoisted in some public functions.

india Updated: Feb 06, 2018 15:11 IST
Vikram Gopal
Vikram Gopal
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
Karnataka flag,Karnataka elections,Karnataka assembly elections
Unofficially, a red and yellow flag, called Kannada flag, has been hoisted in some public functions.(AFP FILE PHOTO)

A committee constituted by the Karnataka government to study the legality of having an official state flag has said there are no constitutional hurdles for such a move.

A nine-member committee was formed on July 10 by the state government following requests from some activists that the state should have its own flag.

The committee submitted its report on Monday although, unofficially, a red and yellow flag, called Kannada flag, has been hoisted in some public functions.

According to a member of the committee who did not wish to be named, there is no provision in the Constitution that disallows states from having their own flags. “We have advised the government that there is no hurdle to having a state flag.”

The official said it was for the state government to take a decision on the issue and refused to reveal further.

“The report has been forwarded to the chief minister (Siddaramaiah). We are awaiting further instructions on this matter,” an official in the Kannada and Culture Department said, on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak on the matter.

Writer Patil Puttappa, who had petitioned the government to notify an official state flag, welcomed the recommendation.

“To protect the culture of this land, a flag was needed,” he said. “This flag should be flown at a lower height than the national flag because our intention is not to disrespect it. We just want our culture also to find a pride of place.”

The setting up of the committee had kicked up a row last year, with the opposition accusing the Congress government of stoking regional identity politics for electoral gains ahead of assembly elections, scheduled to be held in May.

A series of measures by the state government last year has been alleged to be aimed at promoting the Kannada identity. These included the mandatory singing of the official state anthem and learning of Kannada language in schools.

There was also a row over the use of Hindi in signboards at Metro rail stations in the state capital, Bengaluru, where the government sided with pro-Kannada activists in calling for the signboards to only have Kannada and English.

Narendar Pani, political analyst and faculty at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, said this was a significant development ahead of the elections as the BJP’s campaign so far seemed to depend on the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“While it might not necessarily be seen as being anti-Hindi, it will help project the local against the nationalist BJP,” he said.

First Published: Feb 06, 2018 14:58 IST