The chief of Bharatiya Janata Party’s Uttarakhand unit on Wednesday asked his supporters to click pictures of homes where the national flags are not displayed to mark the 75th Independence Day, The Times of India reported.
Last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the “Har Ghar Tiranga” campaign to encourage citizens to display the tricolour at their homes from August 13 to August 15. Reports said the government is aiming at a mass display of flags in 20 crore homes across India.
Addressing an event in Haldwani as part of the government’s Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations, BJP Uttarakhand chief Mahendra Bhatt said that India cannot trust those who do not hoist the national flag.
“Who can have a problem with hoisting the national flag at home?” he asked.
The BJP leader also said that residents would like to “see who is a nationalist and who isn’t”.
Former Uttarakhand Congress chief Ganesh Godiyal said Bhatt should think twice before making “silly remarks” as he is the state head of a national party, The Times of India reported.
“Currently, I am on a tour to the hills and can see many homes not hoisting the tricolour, maybe due to their difficult financial conditions under the BJP rule,” he added.
Congress leader Karan Mahara took a swipe at Bhatt, saying that the headquarters of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh – the BJP’s ideological fountainhead – has not hoisted the national flag for many years. “If the BJP state president’s statement is to be believed, then no one should trust the RSS as well,” Mahara said.
After criticism, Bhatt said the Congress had misconstrued his comments. “Tricolour is being provided by the government through different mediums and the party is also helping in it,” he claimed. “I just said why would anyone have a problem in hoisting the national flag at their residence on Independence Day.”
He then reiterated that those who do not hoist the flag would not be trusted by “the people of this country”.
On Friday, Bhatt claimed his remarks asking for photos of homes that have not displayed the national flag was meant only for party workers as he wants “each one of them to respond to the prime minister’s call” , PTI reported.
The ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ drive
The government’s push for individuals to fly the flag has resulted in controversy at least twice.
In one instance, authorities in Haryana suspended the licence of a ration depot holder after he was seen forcing customers to buy the national flag, warning that they will not be given the provisions otherwise.
In another order related to the “Har Ghar Jhanda” campaign, authorities in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag district issued circulars in schools, asking students and teachers to pay Rs 20 each as part of a countrywide flag-hoisting campaign.
In Anantnag’s Bijbehara town, shopkeepers were asked to contribute Rs 20 towards the campaign. Videos on social media showed announcements being made warning shopkeepers of action if they do not pay the amount.
The order was withdrawn with the deputy commissioner saying the announcement was made without his permission and that the announcer has been suspended.