Questions are being raised about the timing of Siddaramaiah government's move to unveil Karnataka flag with the assembly elections round the corner. The state flag-Nada Dwaja- has been sent to the Union home ministry for approval. Once approved, Karnataka will become only the second state in India to have a separate flag, after Jammu and Kashmir.
Well, it clearly looks like Siddaramaiah's aim is to use the 'Kannada pride' issue for political gain or else why would he do it now, with hardly a few months left for elections. This makes the electoral battle in the state interesting, as the BJP is banking on its 'Hindutva agenda' to win the elections. So will it be 'Kannada pride' vs 'Hindutva', that would be used by politicians to woo voters in Karnataka? Between these, would the real issues that concern people take a backseat?
In a way 'Kannada pride' cannot be pitted against 'Hindutva' as the majority of Kannadigas are anyway Hindus. What Congress and BJP are actually doing is to confuse people and asking them to choose between culture/language and religion. Logically, it seems absurd, but such is the nature of politics practised in our country.
Karnataka BJP chief BS Yeddyurappa came down heavily on Siddaramaiah and asked why the CM did not do it earlier.
"Karnataka CM should resign immediately on moral grounds. Misrule shouldn't continue. I'm going to ask the Governor for President's rule. Why did he come up with a flag in 4th year of his regime? If he wanted to have a state flag he could've done it earlier," Yeddyurappa told the media when asked about the Karnataka flag issue.
The Karnataka chief minister had formed a committee in 2017 to look into the design as well as legal aspects of having a separate flag for Karnataka. The Congress will be hoping that the new flag would take the Congress' Kannada pride strategy to a level higher ahead of Karnataka Assembly Elections 2018.
The 'Naada Dwaja' (state's flag) in hues of yellow, white and red, has the state's emblem 'Gandaberunda' or the two-headed mythological bird that was also the royal insignia of the erstwhile Mysuru kingdom, at its centre. In the tricolour flag, yellow represents wealth and celebration, white represents peace and stability, and red represents valour and pride.
A few months ago, a "Hindi Beda" or 'No to Hindi' agitation drove the removal of all Hindi signboards from the Bengaluru Metro removed. Only Kannada and English signboards remain in the Namma Metro now.
Such tactics adopted by the politicians to gain votes, in fact, divides the society. When the focus should be on real issues that the people are facing, the parties resort to picking up these sentimental issues. One can only hope that people do not become intolerant because of these issues and Karnataka remains a tolerant state that welcomes people from across the country.