There was no delay in communicating the guidelines on hoisting the national flag to a Palakkad school, where unfurling of the tricolour by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat triggered a row on Independence Day, Kerala government told the state assembly today. Replying to a submission by BJP member O Rajagopal, Education Minister C Raveendranath said the public education director had on August 8 and 10 issued circulars with guidelines for the celebration of Independence Day. As per the circular, the head of the institution should hoist national flag and participants in the celebrations should include among others parents of students, public servants, people’s representatives and freedom fighters, he said.
The district collector and the Palakkad education deputy director had again directed the principal of the Karnagi Amman higher secondary school to strictly follow the instructions when on August 14 it came to notice that Bhagwat was going to hoist the flag at the school on Independence day, he said. “There was no delay from the education department authorities in informing about the guidelines for hoisting the national flag,” Raveendranath said. Palakkad District Collector P Marykutty had issued the order on August 14 stating that since the Karnagi Amman School was government-aided, only elected representatives or school authorities could hoist the flag. However, Bhagwat went ahead with the programme and hoisted the flag following which a senior CPI-M district office-bearer had asked the government to register a case against the RSS chief.
RSS leader P Gopalankutty Master, however, had ridiculed the CPI-M’s demand asking “Is it a crime to hoist national flag on Independence day?” Raising the matter in the assembly, Rajagopal accused the government of discriminating in the matter of flag hoisting. It was reported in media that former KPCC president V M Sudheeran and CPI-M leader Anathalavattom Anandan had hoisted national flags on Independence day in schools, he claimed. He alleged that instructions to the school with regard to the guidelines were given as per a directive from the Chief Minister’s Office on August 14 late evening. “I do not believe that it was done with the knowledge of chief minister,” he added.
At this, ruling bench members protested, saying he was making a speech rather than taking up the matter as a ‘submission’ under Assembly Rule 304. The government had alleged that Bhagwat hoisted the flag at the government aided school defying directives in this regard and had thus “shown disrespect to national flag”. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had said in the assembly last week that legal opinion had been sought for taking further steps on the matter