The new BJP government in Karnataka indicated on Thursday it would not pursue with the centre, the previous Congress government’s proposal for a separate state flag that was pending before it.
The government is also mulling over celebrating birth anniversary of prominent personalities in a “different way”, as the present practice depicts them only as “community icons”.
“Already it is clear in the flag code that- one flag for the country, having a cultural flag is different, having a constitutional flag is different. Tricolor is the only constitutional flag. There was no opposition for having cultural flag, but constitutionally there is only one flag for the country and that is tricolor flag,” Minister for Kannada and Culture CT Ravi said in response to a question.
Speaking to reporters, after holding meeting with officials on assuming office, he said, “… we can have Kannada flag as cultural flag, constitutionally there is no such provision for state flag according to flag code.”
Asked whether the state government would not pursue the proposal that was before the central government, he merely said, “the country is one and we only think about unity.”
Flagging off the “Kannadiga pride” ahead of the assembly polls, the then Congress government headed by Siddaramaiah in March 2018 had unveiled the proposed official state flag for Karnataka, and had sent it to central government for approval.
Siddaramaiah government had requested the Centre to include the Karnataka flag in the schedule of the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1950.
The ”Naada Dwaja” (state’s flag) in hues of yellow, white and red, had the state’s emblem ”Gandaberunda” or the two-headed mythological bird, at its centre.
A committee formed by the then government had recommended the separate flag for Karnataka, discounting any constitutional or legal hurdles for it.
However, in May 2018 following Siddaramaiah demanding Prime Minister Narendra Modi to approve the state flag, a Home Ministry official had said the Karnataka government’s proposal to approve an official flag for the state was put on hold as the election code of conduct came into force for upcoming Assembly polls.
The issue had gone to the back burner as Congress lost in the assembly polls.
Mr Ravi also said, the government was mulling over celebrating birth anniversary of prominent personalities differently.
“I’m told that the department celebrates jayantis (birth anniversary) of 25 prominent personalities and most of the department’s efforts are utilised for celebrating these jayantis. While a few jayantis are with public participation, the others are like government sponsored symbolic programme without any public participation,” he said.
“With regard to celebration of these jayantis, there is plan to consult political leaders of all parties and leaders of various communities,” he said, adding that the “celebration of jayantis is right, but there is need for a rethink about how it need to be celebrated.”
Mr Ravi said, instead of scrapping the celebration of jayantis, “we should discuss and decide on how different they can be celebrated or else the issue may get politicised”.
“These jayantis rather than becoming celebration among masses, were getting limited to certain communities or castes making those personalities as community specific icons, so they need to be celebrated in a different way that the messages of those personalities reach people irrespective of the community they belong to,” he added.
Soon after coming to power last month the BJP government had cancelled the annual birth anniversary celebrations of the controversial 18th century ruler of the erstwhile Mysore Kingdom, Tipu Sultan, being organised since 2015.
He said, instead of observing various district festivals in a symbolic way, it should be aimed at attracting tourist and people from other states.
“We have got suggestions regarding this, government will think about it,” he said.
Out of 278 sanctioned posts in Kannada and Culture department, 111 have been filled while 167 are still vacant, the Minister pointed out.
Noting that Karnataka has huge potential for tourism, Mr Ravi said the government will concentrate in developing infrastructure, policy that will encourage private partnership in the sector, developing connectivity, creating hospitality, and also providing employment opportunities for locals in the sector.
To encourage and attract investment in the tourism sector, the government is thinking about coming out with a programme, he said, adding that the impetus will be given to encourage private partnership.
Pointing out that the department has incurred Rs. 41 crore loss due to Golden Chariot (luxury train) project, he said it has been stopped for now.
Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation and state-owned Jungle Lodges were in profit.
“If we manage things professionally, the department can be profitable and create more jobs, that’s our aim.”
As many as 319 spots have been identified for tourism promotion in the State, which has 40 tourism circuits.