Opposition's "RSS Anti-National" Retort At Assam Chief Minister Himanta Sarma Over National Flag

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma at a public event on Tuesday had said hoisting the national flag is a more credible way than applying for inclusion of names in the NRC to prove one's nationality

Opposition's 'RSS Anti-National' Retort At Assam Chief Minister Himanta Sarma Over National Flag

Himanta Biswa Sarma asked the people of Assam to hoist national flag from August 13 to 15

Guwahati:

The opposition parties in Assam have reacted sharply after Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma made an appeal to the people of the state to hoist the national flag at their homes from August 13 to 15. The Chief Minister had linked the matter with the National Register of Citizens, or NRC, process in the state, which has been stuck since 2019.

Mr Sarma at a public event on Tuesday had said hoisting the national flag is a more credible way than applying for inclusion of names in the NRC to prove one's nationality.

"This year, between August 13 and 15, put up the national flag in your homes. You are an Indian citizen just by applying for NRC, it is not enough. You will have to give proof by wearing the tricolour that you are a child of Mother India. Is it or not? The national flag will be available for Rs 16 in ration shops. We will not take it for free because we have an obligation towards the country, we will not take the flag given by others, we will buy it ourselves," Mr Sarma said at the event in Assam's Udalguri district.

The opposition parties questioned him on the matter on Wednesday.

"The Chief Minister might have forgotten that today he is serving the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh). For years in the RSS headquarters, the national flag was not hoisted, so was the RSS anti-national?" Assam Congress spokesperson Apurba Bhattacharjee said.

"People don't need your lessons on patriotism; this country has fought the British out, so before making comments on what countrymen should do, he (Mr Sarma) should look at his own responsibilities. How being a Chief Minister he can make such comments on NRC? Is the NRC some random domestic law? The NRC is a process done as per Constitution and who is he to pass judgment on our patriotism?" the Congress leader said.

In Assam, the target for hoisting the national flag is to cover 80 lakh rural and urban households including the government and private institutions, schools and commercial establishments.

This will be part of the Har Ghar Tiranga programme, being implemented by Culture Ministry under 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' to mark 75 years of Independence. Under this initiative, 20 crore national flags would be hoisted across the country.

The opposition has alleged the BJP and the Chief Minister are trying to politicise a national celebration.

"First, he should go and ask (RSS chief) Mohan Bhagwat why till 2002 the national flag was not hoisted at the RSS headquarters at Nagpur. Is the RSS patriotic or not, first that needs to be found out?" AIUDF MLA Rafikul Islam said.

"Everyone in Assam is involved in the NRC process, but the BJP cannot define what is patriotism, and only stipulating that one has to raise national flag between 13th and 15th August and then only he will prove as patriot is unfair, said Mr Islam.

The final NRC list in Assam, published on August 2019, had found more than 31.1 million people eligible to be included. But it had left out over 1.9 million people, setting off a huge controversy.

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