Congress MLAs in Karnataka continued to hold their overnight dharna in the Assembly for the third night in a row on Saturday, 19 February, demanding the dismissal of Minister KS Eshwarappa for his saffron flag remark.
Speaker Visheshwara Kageri has been forced to adjourn the House prematurely since Wednesday. Congress said they will be launching state-wide protests from Monday, 21 February, in this regard if the ruling BJP does not budge.
"DK Shivakumar and other Congress legislators go home for a while to come back again. The agitation will continue either till the dismissal of Eshwarappa or till the end of the current assembly session."A source close to Shivakumar told PTI
The source said the legislators have been sleeping at night inside the Assembly, performing yoga under the rising sun and jog and walk around the Vidhana Soudha in the morning. The Congress MLAs on Saturday were joined by Mallikarjun Kharge, the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha.
What Eshwarappa Said
The Congress has taken exception to Eshwarappa’s 9 February comment while reacting to an incident when saffron shawl-clad students had hoisted a saffron flag in a school in Shivamogga as part of the ongoing hijab row. The Congress had alleged that the students had removed the national flag and replaced it with the saffron flag. Reacting to this, Eshwarappa had said,
“They (Congress) say that the national flag was removed and the saffron flag was hoisted. I'm not ready to lie like them. We will hoist the saffron flag. Today or tomorrow, we will hoist the saffron flag at Red Fort when Hinduism comes to this country,” he said.
He also said that presently the tricolour is the national flag and they will respect it.
"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 eats food in this country, there is no question about it," Eshwarappa had said.
Responding to a question by reporters, whether the saffron flag can be hoisted on the red fort, he had 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?" he said.
Along with his sacking, the Congress has sought a case of sedition be registered against Eshwarappa for his comment.
"The agitation is happening because of the adamant stand of the BJP. Who is asking for Eshwarappa's resignation? No one. We want his dismissal. Our appeal is also to Governor Thaawarchand Gehlot to dismiss him," KPCC chief DK Shivakumar said on Sunday. 20 February.
(Published in arrangement with The News Minute.)