The Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday clarified that the lotus was being printed on Indian passports because of new security measures. During his weekly media briefing ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, “This symbol is our national flower and is part of the enhanced security features to identify fake passports.” He added that other national symbols will also be used in rotation.

“Right now it is lotus and then next month there will be something else. These are symbols connected with India such as national flower or national animal,” Kumar said.

The lotus is also the symbol of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

The matter was brought up in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday by Opposition members, PTI reported. Congress MP MK Raghavan had said using the lotus symbol on Indian passports was “further saffronisation” by the government.

Kumar said the new security features were introduced as part of International Civil Aviation Organization guidelines.