CM Siddaramaiah unveiling the state flag | Twitter
CM Siddaramaiah unveiling the state flag | Twitter
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Many see Siddaramaiah’s unveiling of a state flag as a political decision ahead of the state elections.

New Delhi: The Karnataka government Tuesday approved a tri-colour as the state flag and has said it will now be sent to the Centre for approval.

A committee headed by noted Kannada scholar Hampa Nagarajaiah decided on the design of the flag. It is yellow, red and white, and the mythical bird ‘gandabherunda’ at the Centre. The yellow stands for forgiveness, white for peace, and red for bravery. The ‘gandabherunda’ is considered to be a symbol of the Mysore kingdom, and was seen as early as 1510 on coins from the Vijayanagara empire.

Why does Karnataka want a flag?

The Congress government in Karnataka formed a committee in July 2017 to pick a state flag, saying it was a demand from its citizens. A nine-member committee, consisting of bureaucrats and scholars, was set up to look into the legality of the issue and come up with designs.

In 2012, the BJP-led government had refused to meet the same demand. They said it was “against the unity and integrity of the country” to have a different state flag.

However, an unofficial flag with the same colours was already in use since the 1960s at state events and was unfurled every 1 November, the foundation day of the state. The flag was designed by Kannada writer Ma. Ramamurthy.

Siddaramaiah had countered all opposition to the state flag by questioning if there was any law that said a state cannot have a flag of its own.

 “Is there any provision in the constitution prohibiting a state from having its own flag? Has the BJP come across any such provision in the constitution? Let them say that they do not want a flag for Karnataka,” he was quoted saying.

Many have questioned whether the state government’s unveiling of the flag is for political gains, given Karnataka goes to the polls this year.

Is it legal?

In the 1994 Supreme Court case S.R. Bommai v/s Union of India, the apex court said there is no prohibition on states having their own flag. However, the apex court stressed that the state flag should not dishonour the national flag and should be hoisted below it.

Do other states have a flag?

Jammu and Kashmir is the only state to have an official flag. The flag was created in 1972 and represents the three regions of Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh. The flag is red in colour, which symbolises labour. The Indian constitution grants J&K special autonomy under Article 370.

Before Sikkim was annexed, it had its own national flag, with a Buddhist prayer wheel in the centre. It continues to use this flag in an unofficial capacity.

Countries such as Australia, the US and Germany allow regional flags to showcase a distinct identity.

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