By Prarthana Mitra
The Karnataka government on Thursday unveiled a new state flag, bearing the state emblem and colours, in line with chief minister Siddaramaiah’s platform of Kannada pride and pro-Kannada activism. Ahead of the flag unveiling, Siddaramaiah met flag committee members, over 50 writers, experts and representatives of pro-Kannada activist groups.
First state after J&K to propose separate flag
The new flag, Nada Dhwaja in Kannada, is yellow, white and red in colour with the state emblem ‘Ganda Bherunda’ in the centre. It has already been approved by the state cabinet and will be sent to the Union home ministry for the Centre’s approval, the chief minister’s office reported. If approved, Karnataka will become the second Indian state to have a separate flag, after Jammu and Kashmir.
Campaigning for regional pride
The Karnataka government had formed a committee headed by Kannada scholar Hampa Nagarajaiah to come up with a design for the official state flag in July 2017 after repeated demands for one. “There was always a debate that the state needed a separate flag. All Kannadigas aspired for this as well. The state government did not join in this debate, but also took a historic decision to get a state flag,” Siddaramaiah said after he unveiled the flag.
With assembly elections slated for later this year, state-wide campaigning is in full swing as political parties scramble to garner votes. Given that Siddaramaiah’s campaign focuses on regional pride above all else, the unveiling of the state flag is being seen as a strategic move by the ruling party to appease the Kannadiga vote bank and play to public sentiment.
No response from the Centre yet
However, the matter of a private state flag goes against the constitutional call for unity, which mandates a common tricolour flag for all Indian states and union territories. Although Siddaramaiah told News 18, “Kannada flag is not unconstitutional. It is not barred by the Constitution. We will send the design to the Centre. Hope they approve it. There has been a long pending demand for it. I am happy that we finally have a Kannada Baavuta (Kannada Flag), “it remains doubtful if the Centre will approve a separate flag for Karnataka.
According to DNA, Siddaramaiah’s move marks a departure from the earlier state government’s stand in 2012, when the BJP had rejected the suggestions to declare the ‘yellow and red’ as official, saying a separate flag would be against the unity and integrity of the country.
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