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Sunday 19 January 2020

Karnataka: BJP govt dumps INC agenda of separate flag

Siddaramaiah government had requested the Centre to include the Karnataka flag in the schedule of the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1950

Bengaluru: The new BJP government in Karnataka indicated on Thursday it would not pursue with the Centre the previous Congress government’s proposal for a separate State flag that was pending before it.

The government is also mulling over celebrating birth anniversary of prominent personalities in a “different way”, as the present practice depicts them only as “community icons”.

“Already it is clear in the flag code that there will be only one flag for the country. Having a cultural flag is different; having a constitutional flag is different. The tricolour is the only constitutional flag. There was no opposition for having the cultural flag, but constitutionally there is only one flag for the country and that is tricolour,” Minister for Kannada and Culture CT Ravi said in response to a question.

Speaking to reporters, after holding a meeting with officials on assuming office, Ravi said, “… we can have the Kannada flag as the cultural flag. Constitutionally there is no such provision for a state flag according to the flag code.”

Asked whether the state government would not pursue the proposal that was before the Central government, he merely said, “the country is one and we only think about unity.”

Flagging off the “Kannadiga pride” ahead of the assembly polls, the then Congress government headed by Siddaramaiah in March 2018 had unveiled the proposed official State flag for Karnataka, and had sent it to Central government for approval.

Siddaramaiah government had requested the Centre to include the Karnataka flag in the schedule of the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1950.

The Naada Dhwaja (state’s flag) in hues of yellow, white and red, had the State’s emblem Gandabherunda or the two-headed bird avatara of Lord Vishnu, at its centre.

Members of the previous Karnataka government unveiling the state flag when a Congress-JD(S) coalition was ruling the province

A committee formed by the then government had recommended the separate flag for Karnataka, discounting any constitutional or legal hurdles for it.

However, in May 2018 following Siddaramaiah demanding Prime Minister Narendra Modi to approve the state flag, a Home Ministry official had said the Karnataka government’s proposal to approve an official flag for the state was put on hold as the election code of conduct came into force for upcoming Assembly polls.

The issue had gone to the backburner as Congress lost in the assembly polls.

Ravi said the government was mulling over celebrating birth anniversary of prominent personalities differently. “I’m told that the department celebrates jayantiss (birth anniversary) of 25 prominent personalities and most of the department’s efforts are utilised for celebrating these jayantis. While a few jayantis are with public participation, the others are like government-sponsored symbolic programme without any public participation,” he said.

With regard to celebration of these jayantis, there is a plan to consult political leaders of all parties and leaders of various communities, the minister said, adding, “The celebration of jayantis is right, but there is a need for a rethink about how it need to be celebrated.”

Ravi said, instead of scrapping the celebration of jayantis, “we should discuss and decide on how different they can be celebrated or else the issue may get politicised”. “These jayantis, rather than becoming celebration among masses, were getting limited to certain communities or castes making those personalities as community specific icons, so they need to be celebrated in a different way that the messages of those personalities reach people irrespective of the community they belong to,” he added.

Soon after coming to power last month the government had cancelled the annual birth anniversary celebrations of the controversial 18th century ruler of the former Mysore Kingdom, Tipu Sultan, being organised since 2015.

The minister said, instead of observing various district festivals in a symbolic way, it should be aimed at attracting tourist and people from other states. “We have got suggestions regarding this, government will think about it,” he added.

Out of the 278 sanctioned posts in Kannada and Culture Department, 111 have been filled while 167 are still vacant, the minister pointed out.

Noting that Karnataka has a huge potential for tourism, Ravi said the government would concentrate in developing infrastructure, policy that will encourage private partnership in the sector, developing connectivity, creating hospitality, and also providing employment opportunities for locals in the sector. To encourage and attract investment in the tourism sector, the government is thinking about coming out with a programme, he said, adding that the impetus will be given to encourage private partnership.

Pointing out that the department has incurred a loss of Rs 41 crore due to the Golden Chariot (luxury train) project, the minister said it had been stopped for now.

Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation and state-owned Jungle Lodges were in profit.

“If we manage things professionally, the department can be profitable and create more jobs, that’s our aim,” Ravi said.

As many as 319 spots have been identified for tourism promotion in the State, which has 40 tourism circuits.

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