The ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ campaign, the BJP government’s programme to hoist at least 20 crore flags atop houses across the country for three days, from August 13 to August 15, has triggered similar campaigns by other political parties to mark the 75th year of Independence. While doing so, the parties, which have planned events on a grand scale, took potshots at each other and the Centre.
On Tuesday, the AAP government in Delhi, led by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, unfurled the 500th high-mast Tricolour in Delhi as part of its campaign to hoist national flags across the Capital. It has also set a target of putting up 80 lakh such flags across residences, government and private establishments from August 13 to 15.
Kejriwal said, “On the 75th Independence Day, we all must pledge to make India the number one country in the world. There are several such nations that attained independence after us yet surpassed our growth despite all the potential and hard work of our people,” adding: “We have to pledge to develop such a system where free education, world-class healthcare and 100 per cent employment become fundamental rights of the citizens.”
He said that there was a “need to eradicate ‘Pariwarwaad’ (dynastic politics) and ‘Dostwaad’ (to favour friends)”, and criticised the Congress and the BJP, saying one party “exploited its power by spending public money on its family members” and the other did so on its “friends”.
The same day in Punjab, Congress chief Amrinder Warring launched the five-day ‘Tiranga Yatra’ from Khemkaran in Tarn Taran district of the state. Senior leaders in the state have been assigned 75 km each as the party expects to cover 2,000 kilometres in five days.
Launching the campaign, which coincides with the Quit India movement in 1942, Warring said the Congress, “unlike the Bharatiya Janata Party or any other political party in the country, had a great and glorious history of sacrifice for the national Tricolour.”
“They are no comparison to us when it comes to watching and safeguarding the national interest and our leaders have laid down their lives for nationalism, both before and after the Independence,” he added.
Their Congress colleagues in Maharashtra launched the ‘Azadi Gaurav Padyatra’ on Monday. Leaders are expected to travel 75 kilometres by foot. Speaking in Wardha, Patole alleged that while the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological parent of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), never participated in the Quit India movement of 1942. Today there is “a surge of patriotism, but it is fake, he said.
In Uttar Pradesh, as the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government is planning to hoist 4.5 crore flags between August 11 and 17, Opposition parties, such as the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), have also introduced their own campaigns.
On Monday, SP president Akhilesh Yadav launched a campaign to hoist national flags in every household in the state from August 9 to August 15, starting from Jhauvva village in Kannauj district. The SP’s campaign is week-long, with the party choosing to start it from August 9 to mark August Kranti Diwas.
Asked whether the SP was following the BJP in undertaking the Tricolour campaign to display patriotism, party spokesperson Abdul Hafeez Gandhi said, “No particular party has the copyright on patriotism. It is everyone’s right to express love and respect for the country. Since this is a special occasion of 75 years of freedom, SP has undertaken a week-long programme. Party workers will reach out to people with the appeal to hoist national flags.”
On Tuesday, BSP national president Mayawati made an appeal to the people of the country to hoist the Tricolour at their homes. BSP leader Faizan Khan said, “BSP has always respected the national flag. But a written appeal through tweet has been made because a silence on the issue can send a message that the BSP was against the flag-hoisting programme just because BJP is doing it on a grand scale.” He also added that if other parties stayed away from the campaign, the BJP would try to project itself as the only “patriotic political party”.
As part of its two-week programme titled ‘Swatantra Bharatha Vajraotsava Dwi Saptaham’, the Telangana government on Monday began distributing flags and started screenings of Richard Attenborough’s film ‘Gandhi’ to school students.
Senior officials said that 22 lakh students will be shown the film, with 2.50 lakh students watching it per day.
The government has also been distributing national flags to every household, with handloom weavers reportedly making 1.20 crore flags.
The fortnightly events will also include mass singing of the national anthem on August 16, with public representatives tasked to mobilise people.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy said that around 1.62 crore national flags would be hoisted in the state from August 13 to 15.
(With inputs from PTI)