At a time when the country is structuring its visions under the guideline of one tax, one nation – the state of Karnataka has insisted on designing a separate state flag that will provide a unique identity symbol for the state. The government has even appointed a nine member committee to submit a report on giving its legal sanctity.
With the upcoming assembly elections in 2018, this decision has come as a sharp contrast from the stand Karnataka had taken in 2012 when BJP was in office.
The then government had then rejected the suggestions to declare the red-and-yellow Kannada flag as the official state flag, as this symbolism would only go against the “unity and integrity of the country”.
When the issue was raised in the assembly, the then Kannada and culture minister Govind M Karjol had said: “The Flag Code does not allow flags for states. Our national flag is the symbol of integrity and sovereignty of our nation. If states have their separate flags, it could diminish the importance of the national flag. Besides, there are possibilities of it leading to narrow minded regional feelings.”
The Siddaramaiah government is pushing for a separate flag for the state, coinciding with pro-Kannada voices disapproving the alleged imposition of Hindi in the state. Former Karnataka chief minister and Union minister D V Sadananda Gowda dismissed the move, saying, “India is one nation and there cannot be two flags in one country.”
As per the order dated 6 June, the government has nominated principal secretary of the Kannada and culture department as chairperson of the committee. The order which has been signed on behalf of the governor by G Annapurna, under secretary of the Kannada and culture department, reads: “The committee must ready a design for a separate state flag and submit a report on providing it a legal sanctity.”
The order says that the committee has been set up collectively with the representations from Karnataka Vidyavardhaka Sangha president, Patil Puttappa and activist Bheemappa Gundappa Gadada from Belagavi, though these representations were made as far back as November 2014.
Former advocate general of Karnataka Ravi Varma Kumar quoted, “The Constitution provides states supremacy in their own sphere and even a seven-judge Supreme Court bench has upheld this. The flag code also has no restrictions on this matter.”
Therefore, if the existing laws may permit states to have their respective flags, Karnataka will become the second state in the country to officially have a flag of its own after Jammu & Kashmir, which enjoys special status under Article 370 of the Constitution.