Days after Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah told ThePrint that the Constitution did not bar any state from having its own flag and that the Centre should not try to impose Hindi on his state, Union Parliamentary Affairs minister Ananth Kumar – also from Karnataka and an MP from Bengaluru – has hit back strongly. The tricolour is sacrosanct and Siddaramaiah should not disturb the inspiration that has gone into making it so, Kumar told Assistant Editor Pragya Kaushika in an interview. Excerpts:
The Karnataka CM wants a separate flag for the state. Your party is opposing it. As a Kannadiga, where do you stand on this?
We are constitutionally, emotionally and in every sense, one nation. We, as people of India, have one flag which is the Indian flag. The tricolour flag is sacrosanct. CM of Karnataka should not dabble in anything which even most remotely intends to dilute this position. It will be termed as a disservice to India’s dignity, integrity and sovereignty. Even his own party people have opposed the demand.
The Karnataka CM opines that there is no law that prevents them from demanding a separate flag?
It is with great effort and supreme sacrifice of freedom fighters and of brave soldiers of Indian armed forces that we have secured Independence. These people are safeguarding our borders and their inspiration and inspiration of 125 crore people is Indian tricolour. If Siddaramaiah has not understood this bit then he does require to learn ABC regarding the unity, integrity and sovereignty of country. All I could say to him for dignity and honour of tricolour is, ‘please don’t meddle’.
The BJP Central government has been accused of imposing Hindi in Karnataka.
Much sacrifice has gone to secure Independence. Throughout the country, there is a three-language formula and regional language and mother tongue always get primacy. This is a scheme of the founding fathers of our constitution and should be followed in letter and spirit. Now, you have a mother tongue, national language and international language.
But the argument that the CM puts forth is that Hindi is not the national language.
I think rather than indulging in hair-splitting arguments, he should know that everybody accepts that the mother tongue has primacy. In Karnataka, first preference is Kannada. He should promote it and should also support the “three-language formula”.
The Congress party alleges that the BJP is causing communal tension in Dakshina Kannada district ahead of polls.
Since Siddaramaiah government has come, there is a concerted attack on nationalist forces. Anti-social and anti-national elements, terrorist organisations are not only gaining ground but also indulging in terror activities. More than 18 leaders and workers have been assassinated and cases that have surfaced are so serious that NIA has to investigate them. Karnataka government is giving communal colour to terror activities. He is putting safety of his citizens in jeopardy. His first responsibility is to maintain law and order in which he is failing. Giving such serious activities a communal twist is how he is indulging in vote bank politics. This shortcut will cut him sharp politically.
What is the BJP’s strategy to counter the Congress allegations ahead of polls?
Every person in Karnataka is aware that the state government is indulging in nefarious activities. BJP as a nationalist political movement is trying to safeguard Karnataka and India so that Bengaluru and the rest of Karnataka do not slip to become a safe house for anti-national and terror elements.
Another state where BJP is being accused of igniting communal tensions is Bengal.
Shant pahad ko aag laga di hai (a peaceful hill has been set on fire). What is happening in Darjeeling is squarely the responsibility of CM Mamata Banerjee. We are urging the CM to first bring peace and tranquillity so that there can be a peaceful dialogue but with police oppression, you cannot achieve it.
But cases have been filed against state BJP leaders there.
This is pure political vendetta. I am a product of the JP movement, I was jailed, had gone underground and my colleagues were brutally tortured. What happened to the Congress was that they were vanquished in 1977. Mamata is trying to imitate them and soon, she will meet her Waterloo.