BJP MLA doles out souvenirs with a pattern of green, white and orange strips in that order; claims it wasn't the national flag, but recalls them after social workers object
The saffron comes first, then the white, and lastly, the green, as any child who ever drew the national flag in their sketchbook knows. But it's a lesson reportedly difficult to learn for a certain elected representative from the saffron party.
Which side up? Recipients of the mementos say they were shocked to see that the flag was upside down
It is the same public figure, who held the flag upside down during a victory celebration in his constituency, Ulhasnagar, after the Cricket World Cup 2011 in April. This time, BJP MLA Kumar Ailani committed the alleged blunder at an award function. He gave out mementos bearing the flag upside down claim those who received them. Though the MLA maintains that he intended the "design" to be that way, he has recalled all the keepsakes after complaints from some social workers and expressions of perplexity from the recipients.
Ailani had promised the Ganesh mandals in his constituency that he would award prizes for pandal decorations and other such criteria. As per his promise, last Sunday, Ailani orchestrated a grand function at the Town Hall of Ulhasnagar, where all prominent mandals were present.
"We all gathered at the Town Hall, where Ailani distributed trophies and cash prizes to pandals for their performance during Ganeshotsav," said an awardee. "I was shocked to see that the flag colours were upside down: green, white and orange. It should have been orange, white and green. We told one of his loyalists about it," he said.
A close associate of Ailani said, "I was surprised myself when I first saw the mementos, and immediately informed others. But nothing was done about it. Now, after complaints, we had to recall the trophies." "There was the same problem with our memento," said Narendra Lakhani, a member of MM Group that bagged a cash prize of Rs 51,000 for the best pandal decoration.
The Assembly Member would do well to get himself a copy of the Flag Code, critics said, which explicitly states that any insult to the national flag, including gross affronts or indignities to it, as well as using it in a manner so as to violate the provisions of the Code (see box), are punishable by law with imprisonment up to three years, or a fine, or both. So which one is it going to be, if any?
Prem Prakash Jha, a social worker from the area said, "This is the second time he has done it. It is just to gain publicity out of negative publicity, the government should take strict action against the accused this time."
The other side MLA Kumar Ailani said he never intended for the flag to be on the mementos in the first place: that's how the pattern was supposed to be. "The mementos carry a design of three colors. It was not the national flag that was there on the memento. There is no Ashok Chakra on it," said Ailani. "But I have called all the 200 mementos back after several complaints."