The Congress on Tuesday said the RSS-BJP hadn’t accepted the Tricolour in their heart, and dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to act against top Karnataka BJP leader K.S. Eshwarappa who has predicted that the saffron flag would one day become the national flag.
“This is an insult to the glorious history of the freedom movement. The Tiranga (Tricolour) wasn’t chosen by an individual. The Constituent Assembly that decided on the national flag was full of freedom fighters. Some parties and organisations didn’t accept the Tricolour for decades. Finally, people’s love and respect for the Tiranga forced them to accept it. But in their hearts, they haven’t accepted it,” Congress spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil said.
Eshwarappa, a former Karnataka minister, had said on Monday: “The saffron flag (of the RSS) has been respected in this country for a long time. It has a history spanning thousands of years. The saffron flag is a symbol of sacrifice. In the RSS, we pray in front of the saffron flag to inculcate that value in us. The saffron flag may become the national flag in this country today or someday. There is no doubt in it.”
Eshwarappa continued: “We don’t have to hoist the Tricolour whenever they (Congress) tell us. The Tricolour is the national flag according to our Constitution and we give it whatever respect it deserves.”
The BJP leader has made similar statements in the past too, triggering protests by the Congress.
Gohil said: “The Prime Minister speaks on everything. Why is he silent on the disrespect to the national flag? Sack the BJP leader (who talked about replacing the national flag). When BJP leaders abuse Mahatma Gandhi, Modi doesn’t take action. We ask him not to give implicit support to the leaders who insult the national flag by remaining silent. This is treason, this is a true anti-national act. The citizens of this country won’t forgive such acts.”
The RSS’s objection to the choice of the Tricolour as the national flag is well documented. In December 1929, the Congress gave a call for “Purna Swaraj” (complete independence) at its Lahore session and hoisted the Tricolour for the first time, appealing to the people to hoist one everywhere on January 26, 1930. The then RSS chief, K.B. Hedgewar, instructed its members to defy the appeal and continue to worship the saffron flag.
M.S. Golwalkar, who became the RSS chief after Hedgewar, held that only the saffron flag represents the great Indian culture and linked it to divinity.
On the eve of Independence, August 14, 1947, RSS mouthpiece Organiser openly said that Hindus would never accept the Tricolour. It said three was a bad number and would be detrimental to national interest.
Golwalkar continued to make fun of the Tricolour after Independence and the RSS refused to hoist the national flag at its headquarters till 2002.
The Congress sought action against BJP leader Eshwarappa for his remark against the Tricolour a day before its Azadi Gaurav Yatra culminates at Rajghat after covering around 1,300km from Sabarmati Ashram in Gujarat. The yatra, which started on April 6, passed through Rajasthan and Haryana to reach Delhi two days ago.
Seva Dal chief Lalji Desai said the yatra received tremendous response on the way because of people’s love for the Tricolour. “It wasn’t about politics. It was about patriotism,” he said, explaining that the purpose was to remind the people of the freedom movement.
Condemning propaganda about freedom being given as “bheekh (alms)”, Desai said: “We told the people about the sacrifices made by millions of people. We explained to them what freedom means to the people. It doesn’t mean the government will decide what people eat, wear and say. One of our slogans was — ‘Woh dande se todenge, hum jhande se jodenge.’ The majesty of the Tricolour is such that people at many places wanted the yatra to pass through their villages. There were over a hundred people who walked for 30 days.”
Delhi Congress chief Anil Chowdhary alleged that the yatra faced hurdles after entering the national capital because of the administration but promised a grand finale at Rajghat on Wednesday. The yatra is part of the Congress celebration of 75 years of Independence.