BENGALURU: It was a virtual war zone in the Karnataka Assembly on Wednesday as Congress and BJP MLAs almost came to blows, with opposition party members demanding the dismissal of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister KS Eshwarappa from the cabinet and a sedition case against him for his alleged remarks that the saffron flag (Bhagawa Dhwaja) would be hoisted at the Red Fort.
At one point, as Congress MLAs rushed towards the treasury benches, the situation was so tense that the marshals had to be called in to stand as a barrier between the two groups. The ruckus started with Opposition Leader Siddaramiah seeking to move an adjournment motion against the minister’s statement. “Eshwarappa is a senior minister. He has insulted the national flag,” he said.
‘He should be dropped from the cabinet’
“Under the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, anything spoken against the national flag is punishable with imprisonment for three years or fine or both. Disrespecting the national flag, the Constitution or the national anthem falls under sedition. Eshwarappa should be dropped from the cabinet and a case should be booked against him,” Siddaramaiah said.
Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister JC Madhu Swamy said Opposition party members should read the full text of the minister’s statement and not create a controversy by reading just parts of it. “He made the statement when some TV news channels asked him about the saffron flag becoming the national flag, for which the minister said that it may become the national flag sometime in the future and it may be hoisted at the Red Fort. But he also made it clear that the Tricolour is the national flag now and it should be respected by everyone. Where is the question of Eshwarappa insulting the flag,” he asked.
When Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri wanted Eshwarappa to reply to the allegations, state Congress president DK Shivakumar objected, saying the minister should not be allowed to speak. This triggered heated exchanges between the two leaders and they passed personal remarks against each other. Shivakumar and some Congress MLAs charged towards the minister, while some MLAs tried to pacify them and the marshals stepped in.
Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said Shivakumar is misleading people by saying that the national flag would be brought down and saffron flag hoisted, which led to further chaos. Congress MLAs accused Araga of not taking any action though the incident occurred in his home district of Shivamogga. As the pandemonium prevailed, Kageri directed the staff to switch off the mikes of members and adjourned the House till afternoon. When the session resumed, Congress members rushed to the well of the House holding national flags. Kageri adjourned the House till Thursday morning.