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Modi plans week-long flag march for 70th I-Day

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been planning a grand show of nationalism on the 70th Independence Day. In the BJP parliamentary party meeting on Tuesday, Modi has proposed that the party should take out Tiranga Yatras throughout the country to evoke the feeling of nationalism among the people.

For a week starting August 15 and ending August 22, MPs and MLAs have been asked to travel on bikes and other vehicles bearing the tricolor which should be perched atop a pole at least 8 feet high. In constituencies where the BJP does not have an MP or an MLA, party office bearers must fulfill this responsibility.

The details of the yatra are still being worked out by a committee led by urban development and information and broadcasting minister M Venkaiah Naidu in consultation with party president Amit Shah.

Will it help?

The week-long celebration plan comes amid fresh turmoil in the Kashmir valley, increasing Maoist violence, IS and other terror outfits gaining traction and debate over intolerance, defamation and freedom of speech.

Earlier in February, Smriti Irani as then HRD minister had reportedly asked the vice-chancellors of 39 central universities to hoist 200-foot high flags atop their institutions to instill nationalism and pride among the students.

Past yatras

The BJP has organized such yatras in the past. In 1991, similar yatras were organized by Modi, led by the then party chief, Murli Manohar Joshi, from Kanyakumari to Lal Chowk in Srinagar. Minister for water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation Uma Bharti had conducted a Tiranga Yatra in 2004, after she had to give up her chief ministerial post over violating prohibitory orders on hoisting a flag in Hubli, Karnataka, earlier. In 2011, Anurag Thakur had also launched the same yatra but was not allowed to enter Jammu & Kashmir.

In the midst of debate over the idea of India taking place in various corners of the country, the yatra possesses a certain relevance. It would be interesting, however, to observe whether it succeeds in defeating the divisive forces that are threatening us today.

By Srishti Sonewal

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