While the power of the ruling class resides in the Tricolour, both the political parties, the Congress and the BJP, are fighting for its ownership. The Tricolour which is seen waving all around us is the national flag which is no longer the flag of the people.
Syed Ali Mujtaba
The ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ programme of the government on the occasion of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, has thrown up a maze and irregular thought process whose paths are difficult to chart the way.
The Tiranga hype has intensified the battle for the real owner of the Tricolour. The Congress and the BJP are sweating it out for laying claim over the ‘Tiranga’, the teeming millions are mere pawns in this power struggle.
The Congress has called the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ programme hypocrisy, accusing the RSS/BJP of being a pseudo-nationalist. The party has reminded the people that the RSS opposed the freedom movement, and did not hoist the Tricolour at its Nagpur office for 52 years ever since the country became independent.
The Congress has also opposed the BJP government’s decision to make the Tricolour from polyester clothing and to be stitched by a sewing machine and import the same. They have accused the BJP government of making changes in the Flag Code unilaterally, without consulting anyone.
The grand old party alleges that the BJP government has turned ‘Har Ghar Trianga’ programme into a ‘Har Ghar Cheen Ka Tiranga’ programme, as the flags are imported from China.
In this power struggle what is seen is that while the power of the ruling class resides in the Tricolour and both the political parties are fighting for its ownership.
Throughout its independent history, the Congress party has got electoral benefits from the Tricolour. First, it had Charkha at the centre of the Tiranga. After its ‘Charakha’ could be printed on both sides, the Congress consented for making the ‘Dharma Chakra’ the centerpiece of the national flag. However, the party’s obsession with the Tricolour continue.
It first got the cow and calf symbol with the Tricolour, and then the hand symbol in between the three colours, the current flag of the INC.
Even before the BJP became the ruling party of India, it used the power of the Tricolour in many ways for its self-aggrandisement. The BJP used the power of the Tricolour first in the ‘Ekta Yatra’ that started from Kanyakumari on December 11, 1991, for Kashmir to hoist the national flag at the Lal Chowk in Srinagar.
The Ekta Yatra was a hugely hit programme among the common people, and along with the Ayodhya movement, it is seen as a movement for a self respect of the Indians, nay the Hindus.
The BJP again used the power of the Tricolour in the anti-corruption movement held under the aegis of “India Against Corruption” in 2011-2012. Some attribute BJP’s victory in the 2014 elections to the power of Tiranga. Since then, the trophy of the Tricolour has gone to the BJP even though it’s contested by the Congress party.
Observers’ opinion that the BJP has beaten the Congress in its own game of patriotism and nationalism that revolves around the halo of Tiranga.
Since 2014, we have seen the BJP’s ruling obsession with the Tricolour each year on August 15 Independence Day. The level of engrossment of the ruling class with the Tricolour is increasing each year and now the Tiranga has come to symbolise the might of the BJP. Some even equate the Tiranga with the BJP and the BJP to be embedded in Tiranga. The fact is that both have blended into each other, as it was in the heydays of the Congress.
In this cacophony of power politics over Trianga, the power of the people has been completely subsumed by the BJP. The Tricolour which is seen waving all around us is the national flag is no more flag of the people, but of the BJP.
Once the BJP has acquired the rightful ownership of the Tricolour, it has engaged in flagging many of its own agendas. Indians have become accustomed to seeing hoardings, and banners with the image of the Tricolour with PM Modi for which crores of public money goes to the corporates. It is from the corporate advertisements, Indians are made to learn the glory of the Tricolour.
The power play on Tiranga has brought in the neo-imperialist agenda in the country. It is apparent that the fight to capture the Tricolour is to facilitate neo-imperialism in India. It is to create the strength for the neo-liberal to plunder the country in a patriotic way.
Multinational companies have invaded India using the power of the Tricolour. The ruling dispensation, after having the Tiranga trophy, feels that there is no threat to India by the neo-imperialist forces’ who are increasingly meddling in the country’s affairs. Some even have quipped that the BJP has become America’s Sevak Party (serving party).
The BJP is engaged in the destruction of national institutions, selling national assets/resources to domestic and foreign companies with the power of the Tricolour. It is diverting the attention of the people from their problems such as poverty, unemployment, inflation, malnutrition, etc. by staging the tamasha of ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.
The power of the Tricolour could have been used to fight against the neo-imperialists by linking it with the people of the country. But the BJP has devalued the Tricolour by cutting it off from the common people. It is fond of using the nationalist spirit of the Tricolour to make the countrymen accept neoliberalism.
If the Tricolour is used to promote the neoliberal agenda, then the days are not far away when the national flag will also be used to promote the ‘Hindu self-respect’ movement. Whether Tiranga will remain India’s national flag in such a case or it will be thrown into the dustbin of history and replaced by the saffron flag is another story to be told about how Tiranga has been used and abused in India.
A new template of politics has emerged in India riding on the wave of the Tricolour. ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’- Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav symbolizes two things; one the power of the BJP to assert its position in the body politics and second the use of the power of Tiranga to promote the cause of Hindu Rashtra.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. The views expressed here author’s personal, He can be contacted at email@example.com