The Modi government has been celebrating the 75th year of independence as ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ since August 15 last year. The grand celebrations will culminate on Independence Day this year.
The central government launched a programme called ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ and exhorted the 20 crore households in the country to hoist the national flag in their homes from August 13 to August 15.
Making an addition to the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ initiative, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his 91st ‘Mann ki Baat’ radio programme on July 31, suggested that everyone could change her or his display picture (DP) on social media platforms to the tricolour from August 2 – the birth anniversary of Pingali Venkayya, who designed the national flag – till Independence Day.
Beginning of the tiranga controversy
While the PM, his council of ministers, BJP leaders and supporters and several government departments changed their DP to the tricolour on August 2, leaders of the opposition parties, particularly the Congress, did not follow suit.
In fact, the BJP’s alliance partners such as Janata Dal (U) in Bihar and the Shiv Sena faction led by Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde also did not oblige the PM.
However, a day later on Wednesday, Congress leaders such as Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Jairam Ramesh changed their DP with the tiranga. The Congress also changed the hashtag from ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ to ‘My Tiranga My Pride’.
तिरंगा हमारे दिल में है, लहू बनकर हमारी रगों में है। 31 दिसंबर, 1929 को पंडित नेहरू ने रावी नदी के तट पर तिरंगा फह… https://t.co/utmzweRJjx
— Congress (@INCIndia) 1659501549000
But the BJP mocked the Congress for the DP showing India’s first PM Jawaharlal Nehru holding the tricolour. In a press conference, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra accused the Congress of following “dynasty” even in a national event. He said Congress leaders could have kept a picture of just the national flag.
Congress attacks RSS
While changing their DP to the tricolour, several senior Congress leaders also launched a counter-offensive against the BJP.
Rajya Sabha MP and Congress general secretary in-charge of communications Jairam Ramesh said, “We are putting DP of our leader Nehru with tricolour in hand. But it seems that the message of the prime minister did not reach his family only. Those who did not hoist the flag in their headquarters in Nagpur for 52 years, will they obey the prime minister?”
हम हाथ में तिरंगा लिए अपने नेता नेहरू की DP लगा रहे हैं। लेकिन लगता है प्रधानमंत्री का संदेश उनके परिवार तक ही नहीं… https://t.co/OZ7bhHe4v4
— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) 1659503536000
Congress’s media and publicity department chairman Pawan Khera exhorted RSS leaders to adopt the tricolour. He included in his tweet the screenshots of the accounts of the RSS and its chief Mohan Bhagwat who had not changed their DP to the tricolour.
संघ वालों, अब तो तिरंगे को अपना लो #MyTirangaMyPride https://t.co/mYQPiuAB58 https://t.co/TMVcpfu3eA
— Pawan Khera 🇮🇳 (@Pawankhera) 1659504113000
Indian Youth Congress president B V Srinivas said, “There is no respect for the tricolour in the heart of those who have not contributed to freedom.”
जिनका आज़ादी में कोई योगदान नहीं,उनके दिल में तिरंगे का कोई सम्मान नहीं। https://t.co/CrdNM6sb6n
— Srinivas BV (@srinivasiyc) 1659511043000
Several other Congress leaders took potshots at the BJP over the RSS and its functionaries not changing their DP.
Controversy over Har Ghar Tiranga bike rally
The Union culture ministry organised a ‘Har Ghar Tiranga Bike Rally’ from Red Fort to India Gate on Wednesday. The rally, flagged off by Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu, was meant for members of Parliament (MPs).
भाषा,संस्कृति, परिधान की विविधताओं से भरा यह देश,पर सबका गौरव एक, राष्ट्रध्वज तिरंगा श्रेष्ठ 🇮🇳आज़ादी के… https://t.co/deCcdcpyN7
— Anurag Thakur (@ianuragthakur) 1659505963000
Besides information and broadcasting minister Anurag Thakur, the other ministers who took part in the bike rally were Smriti Irani, Piyush Goyal, Pralhad Joshi, Kishan Reddy, Arjun Ram Meghwal, Meenakshi Lekhi and V Muraleedharan.
Participated in the Tiranga Bike Rally flagged off by the Vice President of India @MVenkaiahNaidu Ji from the Red F… https://t.co/ZtCuahYljj
— Smriti Z Irani (@smritiirani) 1659504222000
However, opposition MPs were absent from the rally. The BJP lashed out at them.
BJP’s in-charge of information and technology department Amit Malviya said, “This morning, MPs took out a Tiranga Bike Rally from the historic Red Fort in Delhi. The Vice-President flagged off the rally but no opposition MP chose to participate. Is this an unequivocal admission that BJP is the sole custodian of the tiranga, a symbol of our national pride?”
This morning, MPs took out a Tiranga Bike Rally from the historic Red Fort in Delhi. Vice President flagged off the… https://t.co/3By1O7ERUQ
— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) 1659506400000
Asked about the absence of Congress MPs, leader of the party in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury is reported to have said that it was a BJP agenda. “We all know who is the real patriot. The newspaper that played a major role during the independence struggle is being targeted. They are celebrating their events. Why should we accept the BJP’s political agenda? They have finished khadi. Flags are coming from China. They have changed the Flag Code. They are keeping the government as a signboard for their political activities,” he said.