Govt issues circular on R-Day celebrations, Bhagwat set for I-Day encore

With the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat set to hoist the national flag at a private school in Palakkad on Republic Day, a circular issued by the CPM-led state government is doubling as throwback to a controversy from last year, involving Bhagwat in similar circumstances.

The General Administration Department circular, dated January 17, outlines standard procedures prescribed for hoisting the tricolour in institutions and other events related to the Republic Day, on Friday.

It stipulates that the ceremonial hoisting of the national flag has to be done by heads of departments, offices and educational institutions and goes on to detail the speeches again, delivered only by institutional or departmental heads and other celebratory events.

Bhagwat is scheduled to unfurl the national flag on Friday at the Vyasa Vidya Peethom Senior Secondary School in Kallekkad in Palakkad, where an RSS camp will also begin on the same day.

The CBSE-affiliated school is run by the pro-Sangh Bharatiya Vidya Niketan.

The circular is part of standard administrative procedures ahead of the Republic Day.

This time, Bhagwat is being hosted by a private, Sangh-controlled institution but the circular is likely to place the event in the centre of another political row.

In 2017, Independence Day celebrations at the Karnakayamman Higher Secondary School at Moothanthara, also in Palakkad, was in the spotlight over Bhagwat hoisting the tricolour there, though the then district collector P Marykutty had issued a circular restricting organisational heads from unfurling the tricolour at government-aided schools.

The management of the school is seen as close to the Sangh. Late last year, the government also initiated action against the management.

After BJP district president E Krishnadas formally raised objection to the circular, the Prime Minister's Office, on August 22, also directed the Chief Secretary to respond to the petitioner.

Krishnadas said the circular, sent to the school headmaster late night on August 14, was in "gross violation" of a citizen's Constitutional rights.

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