India’s opposition leader, Rahul Gandhi, has accused the government of forcing people entitled to free food at government ration shops to buy flags in return for provisions in the run-up to Independence Day celebrations on 15 August.
India will celebrate 75 years of independence from the Raj on Tuesday, and the streets of cities across the country are full of flags for sale.
But Gandhi claimed that in some cases patriotic fervour was being forced on people, referring to a widely circulated video showing a shopkeeper in Haryana state scolding a customer who came in for free grain and did not want to buy a flag.
The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party rules at national as well as at state level in Haryana.
This year, however, Modi has launched a campaign called Har Ghar Tiranga (“a flag in each home”) which has become the centrepiece of the celebrations.
The government target is for at least 200m flags to be on display by Monday, and the home affairs minister, Amit Shah, has urged people to change their social media profile pictures to the flag.
In the town of Surat, in Gujarat, Modi’s home state, textile traders went on a procession carrying a flag 5km long.
Read more at the Guardian