The state of Karnataka was formed on 1st November, 1956. The former name of the state was Mysore and this name was changed to Karnataka in the year 1973. But since the formation of this new state under the provisions of States Reorganisation Act, 1956, which set up the boundaries according to linguistic lines, the state had its own separate flag. The Karnataka flag was named as “Kannada Paksha”.
Significance of Kannada Paksha
The flag, Kannada Paksha was the flag of a Political party, “Kannada Paksha” which was founded by Ramamurthy M.
The colour of the flag is yellow and red. The Kannada Paksha can be divided into two halves horizontally and the colour on the top half is yellow and the other half is coloured in red.
According to the people of Karnataka, the yellow colour signifies Arashina that is Turmeric and the red colour signifies Kumkuma that is Vermilion. These two ingredients are for auspiciousness and well being not only in the State of Karnataka but also among the people of the state.
The party who used this flag is no longer in function, but the flag is used as a symbol all over the world to represent Karnataka and Kannada.
On the occasions of Kannada Rajyotsava or the Karnataka day, in the month of November and other Kannada oriented celebration, the flag is hoisted all over the state of Karnataka.
Not only this, the flag is also seen waving on auto rickshaws, yellow board vehicles and motor bikes. This shows that the people of Kannada loves and respect their state flag and it is a symbol of pride to them.
Unlike the former flag of the state of Jammu and Kashmir before taking away the special status of the state, which gained it authority through Article 370 of the Constitution of India, the flag of Karnataka is de facto in nature and cannot be called as the official flag of the state.
The state of Sikkim also had its own flag but it was removed after the enactment of State Reorganisation Act, 1956. But the flag of Karnataka was still used because it became popular among the people of Karnataka. The flag became unofficially the official flag of the state as it was accepted by the people of Karnataka.
Demand of a Separate State Flag
Demand for a separate state flag is not new. The Kannada activists have been demanding an official flag from a very long time. These activities also start raising demands for eliminating the use of Hindi speaking. Like a protest was encountered in Bengaluru’s Namma Metro against the use of Hindi. Therefore, a demand of state flag will attract other dimensions also and this will in turn harm the unity and integrity of the country.
Is it illegal for a state to have its own flag?
It is not illegal for a state to have its own flag. This legality can be traced on the basis of two grounds:
- The Constitution of India does not specifically restrict a state to have it own flag.
- If a state can have its own state animal, state bird, state language and even state examination board, then why can a state not have its own state flag?
But in a wider sense flags are symbolic of countries and Karnataka is a state in India, and the country already has its own tri-colour Tiranga as its flag so there is no need to have a separate flag for Karnataka.
Is the demand of Karnataka to have separate flag justified?
The government of Karnataka is demanding to have a separate flag for its state, but the same is not justified on the following grounds:
- A Special State Can Have a Separate Flag: Those states that enjoy special status under the provision of Constitution of India can have their own state flag. Like the state of Jammu and Kashmir had its own flag under Article 370 before this special status was taken away by the government of India. Therefore, the demand of Karnataka Government is divergent to the provisions of the Constitution of India.
- Disturbs the Unity of Nation: The BJP government in the year 2012 has claimed that giving assent to the Karnataka Government to have a separate flag will disturb the unity and integrity of the country.
- Single Flag for a Nation: The constitution does not permit a state to have a separate flag of its own. India is one nation and we have on flag which is a national symbol of our country. Though the Constitutional do not expressly or impliedly prohibit any state to have a state flag, but respecting the national flag of our country is a priority.
- Unconstitutional: According to Shiv Sena, a state flag is unconstitutional and therefore a state should not have a separate flag.
There are certain other grounds which can allow the Karnataka government to have its own state flag. These grounds are as follows:
- No Specific provision that prohibit state flag: The Shiv Sena talked about the unconstitutionality of flag and the Bharatiya Janta Party claimed that having a separate state flag would hamper the unity and diversity of the country, but, on the other hand, the Chief Minister of Karnataka state, Mr. Siddaramaiah, asked to the BJP government to bring forward the provisions of the Constitution of India that invalidated a state to have its own separate flag.
- No Disrespect towards the flag of India: Though the state of Karnataka is having its own flag and demanding its legality, but the state has never shown any disrespect towards the flag of the nation. Even the state song of Karnataka in which the words are, “JAYA BHARATA JANANIYA TANUJATE JAI HE KARNATAKA MATE”, this means that, “HAIL MOTHER INDIA AND HER DAUGHTER KARNATAKA”. This shows that the state of Karnataka respects the national flag of India and considers the state flag as the daughter of the national flag. The flag of Karnataka always fly below the national flag. Therefore, there is no illegality in having a separate state flag by the Karnataka government.
- States of other countries also have state flag: Other federal countries like India, supports a state flag of the state. These countries are the United States of America, Australia, Germany and Burma. The states in these countries are allowed to have their own state flag which will showcase their identities.
- Enactments do not deny a state to have a state flag: There are certain enactments like the Prevention of Insult to National Honour Act, 1971, Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950, Flag Code of India, which are specifically for national flag alone and there is no legal provision that restrict a state to have a separate flag. Therefore, a state can have its own flag to represent the people of that particular state but it cannot represent the government of that state.
Politics over state flag
The political parties are always scrounging to find an issue to debate on by which they can win support of the people. In the year 2018, a debate raised between Siddaramaiah lead Congress government and the BJP government in the state of Karnataka. Both the political parties are searching for issues to become popular and in this race the ruling Congress party was supporting the state flag along with other issues. The BJP was against this view of Congress.
There are various other issues like proper education, health care facility for all, economic empowerment etc. but the political parties were fighting over the issue of state flag. With this it is clear that winning elections are important for certain political parties as they do not have any solution for the genuine problems of the state. Since time immemorial, the political parties are practising the policy of divide and rule and they divide the people in various groups of class, caste, sex, colour, religion and now for state flag.
The only solution for these problems is the Election Commission. The body should inflict strict rules and regulations on the candidates contesting for elections. Those speeches, messages or other related things which is against the democratic system of India should be disqualified and these people should be punished according to the provision of Representative Act, 1951.
India is not a republic, India is a quasi-federal republic and therefore, states should not have their separate flags. In the case of S.R. Bommai v. Union of India (1994), the facts revolved around the action of centre against the state in respect of state flag. The court held that the values which are enshrined in the Constitution should not be violated and only the state of Jammu and Kashmir can have its own flag.
The demand for having a separate flag in state of Karnataka is for attaining electoral benefits and there is no strong ground to demand a separate state flag. Demanding a state flag is an action against the Constitution of India and also against the very idea of the country. The Constitution favours citizenship and not stateship. The idea of separate flag will weaken the virtue of fraternity and will tamper the values of Republic country as enshrined by the Constitution.
Though the state in other countries have their own flags, but at the same time their political structure is different from India and adopting their actions will be harmful for our country. India is a land of diversity and there is no need to add another form of diversity by raising the need of state flag.