Karnataka needs its own flag said Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, reiterating his stand once again on Saturday at the Kannada Rakshana Vedike rally at Palace Grounds, Bengaluru.
"As CM and representative of 6.5 crore citizens, I'm of the firm opinion that Karnataka needs its own flag," he said, The Times of India reported.
He added that the demand for a separate flag however does not mean disrespect for the national flag in any way.
"It's not mentioned anywhere that there should not be a separate flag for the state. Having a separate flag for Karnataka doesn't mean we'll lose our respect for the national flag. The national flag will always be at the highest pedestal," the CM said.
According to the report, Siddaramaiah also said that every person in the state, irrespective of the language they speak or the region they hail from, should be a Kannadiga first.
"There can't be any dispute on this issue. A person may be of any region and speak any language, but by being a resident of Karnataka, each person must first be a Kannadiga," he said.
Earlier this year, the Congress-led state government kicked off the process to get its own official state flag.
It set up a nine-member committee to design a state flag and also submit a report on giving it legal sanctity, reported The Times of India.
If the idea gets statutory standing, Karnataka will become the second state in the country to have a separate state flag, after Jammu and Kashmir.
While the BJP has been protesting the state government's move stating that it will "diminish the importance of the national flag", the latter has refused to budge even an inch.
Law Minister TB Jayachandra had earlier said, "The Indian Constitution has three Articles with regard to flags and flag hoisting. The Constitution speaks of the National Flag and protocol that needs to be followed while handling and hoisting it. It, however, does not say anything about states not being allowed to have a flag of their own. It’s a grey area. So there is no problem with Karnataka having its own flag."
Speaking to The Hindu, former Advocate-General of Karnataka, Ravivarma Kumar, said that the Constitution does not prohibit a state from having a separate state flag. Citing S.R. Bommai v/s Union of India (Supreme Court 1994) case, he said:
"In Bommai’s case, the Supreme Court has declared that federalism is a basic feature of the Constitution and States are supreme in their sphere. This being the Constitutional position, there is no prohibition in the Constitution for the State to have its own flag. However, the manner in which the State flag is hoisted should not dishonour the national flag. It has to be always below the national flag. The national flag code specifically authorises use of other flags subject to the regulation by the court. So State flag is not unauthorised."