The Karnataka government has set up a nine-member committee to design a separate flag for the state and find a way to provide it Constitutional validity, The Times of India reported on Tuesday. The panel will be headed by the principal secretary of the Department of Kannada and Culture and will comprise bureaucrats and academics, India Today reported.

Currently, only Jammu and Kashmir has a flag of its own, under Article 370 of the Constitution.

Karnataka has already been using a red-and-yellow flag unofficially during state events, both at government and private ones organised by pro-Kannada groups. “The state flag is a recognition of our sentiments, culture and feelings,” Kannada activist Bhimappa Gadad told News18.

When the Bharatiya Janata Party was in power in Karnataka five years ago, it had rejected the proposal to allow the recognition of a state flag. It had then told the Karnataka High Court that the move would be against the unity and integrity of the nation, NDTV reported.

BJP opposes the move

The BJP has accused the Siddaramaiah government of making this decision with an eye on the Assembly elections in the state scheduled for April 2018. “India is one nation, and there cannot be two flags in one country,” former Karnataka Chief Minister and Union minister DV Sadananda Gowda told The Times of India.

However, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has denied the allegation, saying he had enquired whether there was any Constitutional provision that prohibited a state from having its own flag. “It has nothing to do with the elections,” he said. “If the BJP is opposed to it, then can they say openly that they are against a state flag.”

Shiv Sena wants the Karnataka government dismissed

Congress members were also reported to be unhappy with the Karnataka government’s decision to design a state flag, ANI reported.

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut has asked for President’s Rule to be imposed in the state. “This is against the Constitution,” he claimed. “Such a government should be dismissed immediately. President’s Rule should be imposed.”

Meanwhile, Constitution expert PP Rao said Karnataka was well within its rights to have a flag of its own. “There is no restriction in the Constitution that says a state cannot have its own separate flag,” Rao said.