As India gears up to celebrate the 69th Republic Day in the next three days, a bizarre diktat by the Left government in Kerala has sparked a massive row regarding who has the right to hoist the tricolour.
The Pinarayi Vijayan government in the state has issued a circular stating that the national flag should only be hoisted by the head of departments in all public offices, schools and colleges in Kerala.
This order is significant as this effectively puts a spanner on the plans of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat who is expected to unfurl the flag at a management school in the Palakkad district.
With the order clearly barring ‘non-government individuals’ from hoisting national flag in public institutions, Bhagwat’s may not be able to lead the flag-hoisting ceremony at the local school.
The Chief Minister’s Office has stated that the directive was issued based on existing central rules and regulations, News18.com reported.
In fact, when questioned about the reason behind the government’s move, Dr Dinesh Varshney, CPI leader said, “If hoisting is allowed for everybody, it may be misused.”
In 2017, Bhagwat had defied restraining orders from the District Collector and had unfurled the Tricolour at a government-aided school, 6 km from Palakkad on Independence Day.
The District Collector and police had told the Karnakeyamen School management that since the school was state-supported, only people’s representatives or the head of the institution could raise the flag.
At that time, Palakkad Lok Sabha member and CPI-M leader M.B. Rajesh accused the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) of trying to incite trouble in Kerala.
“This is a brazen violation of the law of the land. This is a school funded and supported by the Kerala government. The rules and regulations have to be followed. Today this did not happen,” Rajesh had said.
Despite last year’s controversy, Bhagwat is again set to hoist the tricolour at a the Sangh-run Bharathiya Vidya Niketan in Kallekadu on the Republic Day.
Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party has slammed the CPI government in the state over the R-Day circular, with party spokesperson GVL Narsimha Rao calling it “utter nonsense”.