Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday responded to the controversy over a lotus in the logo of India’s G20 presidency, saying that the flower was part of the country’s cultural identity, PTI reported.

Last week, the Congress had alleged that the Centre used the lotus in the logo in a bid to promote the Bharatiya Janata Party. The lotus is also the Hindutva party’s election symbol.

“The truth is that the Government of India, in 1950, had declared lotus as a national flower,” Singh said on Sunday. “And they did so because lotus is a symbol of our cultural identity.”

The presidency of the G20, or Group of 20 countries, is assumed by its members on a rotational basis. India will assume the presidency from the current chair Indonesia on December 1.

After releasing the logo on November 8, a press release from the prime minister’s office had stated that it draws inspiration from the vibrant colours of India’s national flag – saffron, white and green, and blue.

“It juxtaposes planet Earth with the lotus, India’s national flower that reflects growth amid challenges,” the statement noted. “The Earth reflects India’s pro-planet approach to life, one in perfect harmony with nature.”

In a tweet on November 9, Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh wrote in a tweet that India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had rejected a proposal to make Congress flag the national flag of India.

“Now, BJP’s election symbol has become official logo for India’s presidency of G20! While shocking, we know by now that Mr. Modi & BJP won’t lose any opportunity to promote themselves shamelessly!” Ramesh wrote.

On Sunday, Singh said it was painful to see controversies being created around symbols of India’s culture, reported PTI.

“There is a limit to making accusations,” Singh said. “Just because it is any party’s election symbol, should we leave it and cancel the recognition of the lotus as India’s national flower.”

The defence minister also referred to the Congress party’s symbol and asked whether the use of the word “hand” should also be stopped.

He added: “If any party’s poll symbol is a cycle, should we not sit on a bicycle, just because it is an election symbol.”