Senior BJP leader and Karnataka Minister for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj KS Eshwarappa on Wednesday claimed 'Bhagwa dhwaj' (saffron flag), may become the national flag some time in the future.
He, however, said the tricolour is the national flag now, and it should be respected by everyone.
"Hundreds of years ago the chariots of Sri Ramachandra and Maruthi had saffron flags on them. Was the tricolour flag there in our country then? Now it (tricolour) is fixed as our national flag, what respect it has to be given, should be given by every person who takes food in this country, there is no question about it," Mr Eshwarappa said.
Responding to a question by reporters on whether the saffron flag can be hoisted on the red fort, he said, "not today, some day in the future."
"Discussions are today taking place in the country on 'Hindu vichara' and 'Hindutva'. People used to laugh at one point when we said Ram Mandir will be constructed in Ayodhya, aren't we constructing it now? In the same way some time in the future, after 100 or 200 or 500 years Bhagwa dhwaj may become the national flag. I don't know."
Further stating that now tricolour has been constitutionally accepted as the national flag, the Minister said, it should be respected, and those who don't respect it will be a traitor.
"...we are the people who hoist the saffron flag, not today some time in the future Hindu dharma will come to this country at that time we will hoist it on the Red fort, for now tricolour is our national flag, there is now doubt about it and we all respect it," the former state BJP chief added.
Mr Eshwarappa was responding to state Congress president DK Shivakumar's claims that students hoisted saffron flag by replacing the tricolour at the Government First Grade College in Shivamogga, during an anti-hijab protest on Tuesday.
Calling Mr Shivakumar's claims a lie, Mr Eshwarappa, who hails from Shivamogga, alleged it as an attempt to create a divide between Hindus and Muslims.
"DK Shivakumar is a liar, let him prove it. Yes, the saffron flag was hoisted there, but the national flag was not lowered.....saffron flag can be hoisted anywhere, but not by lowering the national flag, it has not happened and will never happen. National flag was not removed, only the flagpole was used," he added.
Shivamogga college authorities and police officials too have clarified that the national flag was not lowered to put up a saffron flag.
"The pole was empty, the saffron flag was put up by some, it was later removed by them," they said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)