Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Monday said there was nothing wrong with saffronising the education system, in a bid to defend his government’s decision to paint government school classrooms in the colour often associated with Hindutva, The New Indian Express reported.

“What is wrong with saffronising the education system when the saffron colour is in the national flag?” he asked while speaking to reporters.

Bommai made the remarks while launching the “Viveka” scheme in Kalaburgi district on the occasion of Children’s Day. Under the scheme, the Karnataka government plans to build around 8,000 classrooms in government schools across the state.

On Sunday, state Education Minister BC Nagesh had announced the classroom would be painted with saffron colour, according to The Indian Express. He had claimed that the colour had been picked on the suggestion of architects and was “not in line with any ideology”.

Congress leader BK Hariprasad has accused that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government was “trying to communalise education” in the state.

“The government schools and colleges are run by taxpayers’ money and the education minister has no business to confine it to one religion,” Hariprasad said, according to NDTV. “He [Nagesh] is trying to polarise and communalise the education in the state that is not acceptable.”

Congress MLA Priyank Kharge said that instead of focusing on the lack of basic infrastructure in schools, the Karnataka government was painting schools saffron, reported the Hindustan Times.

“Crumbling infrastructure, shortage of teachers, increase in dropouts, no textbooks, no uniforms, no midday meals, learning has dropped, but the government is interested in painting schools saffron,” Kharge said.

In response, Nagesh said that the Opposition was trying to politicise the matter as their voter base was eroding.

“They [Congress] seem to be allergic to the colour saffron,” he said. “They oppose it where ever it can be seen. I ask them why not oppose the flag as it has saffron too. I ask them why don’t you apply the colour green everywhere and remove saffron.”