Union Minister Prahlad Patel on Friday morning accused Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal – who has been at odds with the centre over its management of the pandemic – of disrespecting the national flag.
Mr Patel claimed the green stripes in the flags displayed behind Mr Kejriwal during recent video conferences – which have focused on dealing with the pandemic and announcing welfare measures – were distorted and enlarged, and the white central stripes reduced.
These, the Culture and Tourism Minister declared, were violations of the Flag Code of India. Mr Patel has written to the centre and the Lieutenant Governor to demand immediate correction.
“Whenever Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal addresses a televised briefing, my attention is often drawn to the national flag behind his chair… it is in violation of the Constitution. The national flag has been used for the purpose of decoration,” he said in his letter.
“The middle (the white stripe) seems to got cut by the green stripe. This is not in accordance with Home Ministry rules on depiction of the national flag. I want to bring this to the attention of the respected Chief Minister, who has ignored this – either consciously or subconsciously,” he added.
Images of Mr Kejriwal at his desk, with the crossed flags in the background, have become a common sight over the past few weeks, as he regularly makes televised addresses to share data on Covid numbers, lockdown rules and vaccine procurement.
On Thursday the Chief Minister made a televised appeal to the centre, urging it to procure the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine “asap” to inoculate children. The day before he appeared on TV to confirm that the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine would soon be available in Delhi.
Last week Mr Kejriwal made another televised address – this time to Prime Minister Narendra Modi – with four suggestions to increase the pace of vaccinations.
The centre, also Thursday, released a statement on “myths and facts” about its handling of the pandemic, in which it attacked “some leaders” who are vocal about the lack of vaccines.
“The behaviour of some leaders, who in spite of full knowledge of the facts on vaccine supply, appear on TV daily and create panic among the people is very unfortunate,” it said.
Mr Patel’s letters today come as India continues to battle a devastating second Covid wave – this morning 1.86 lakh new cases and 3,660 deaths were reported in the past 24 hours.
Since the pandemic began in December 2019, over three lakh Indians have lost their lives. Experts say the actual number of COVID-19 cases and deaths is potentially much higher, and have warned the centre to prep for what they say is an inevitable third wave of infections.