Row as Karnataka sets up panel to design state flag

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A Union home ministry official said in New Delhi Tuesday there was no legal bar on a state having a separate flag but it would represent the people and not the government and said India as a nation had only one flag.

The CM had also dared the BJP to come out in the open against a separate state flag.

However, former Advocate General Ashok Haranahalli said that the state should frame a flag code without giving scope for it to affect the unity and integrity of the country if it wants to have a separate flag.

Though Kannada social and cultural organisations have been using a flag in red and yellow colours across the state over the last six decades, there is no legal sanction or official recognition to it from the state government not is it hoisted on the Rajyotsava Day (formation day) on November 1.

Jayachandra said he will now call for the first meeting of the committee formed by the Kannada and Culture department to discuss the legalities and constitutional concerns raised in the public and by opposition, before asking the committee to take it forward. To a query, he sought to know whether there is any specific provision in the Constitution that prohibits the State from having its own flag. "But whether the state should have a flag or not is a grey area", he told reporters after a cabinet meeting here.

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The Sikkim flag lost its official status when Sikkim became a part of India in 1975 after Sikkimese Monarchy Referendum. "While all these Acts speak of the National Flag and its protocol, the Acts remain silent on the issue of a state having its own flag. I don't see any provision anywhere, if they want to have state flag, there is nothing wrong in it", Rao told ANI. However, the state flag must fly at a lower height than the national flag.

Karnataka BJP spokesperson, S Prakash on Tuesday asked the Congress to not indulge in unnecessary controversies and gimmicks and instead respect the national aspiration. "If BJP is opposed to it then can they say openly that they are against a state flag", the Chief Minister said.

If Karnataka gets its own flag, it would be the second state in the country after Jammu and Kashmir which has already a flag.

Sources said that CM Siddaramaiah has seized upon a highly emotive issue, and one that is placing the Kannadas at direct loggerheads with the BJP that is now increasingly perceived as a north-Indian, pro-Hindi party.