Lotus symbol on Indian passports sparks row in Parliament

indica News Bureau-

A day after the ‘lotus’, the national flower of India and election symbol of the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), found a place on the Indian passport, debates erupted in the Indian parliament as Congress Party alleged that the BJP was using the document as a political tool. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), however, has responded saying that it is an added feature for security and more such symbols will be in rotation.

“It was part of the enhanced security features to identify fake passports and involves using other national symbols as well on rotation”, said the MEA.

Congress MP from Kozhikode M.V. Raghavan had raised the issue in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, stating that a lotus is printed inside a rectangle on the page where the passport officer’s signature and seal is put, reported The Telegraph.

Raghavan, alleged that  lotus being printed on new passports brought for distribution in Kozhikode in Kerala as BJP is trying to use the passport as a political tool.  He said that the matter has been highlighted by one of the newspapers and alleged that this was “further saffronization” of the government establishment with the lotus being the election symbol of the BJP.

Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar clarified the stance, saying, “This symbol is our national flower and is part of the enhanced security features to identify fake passports. Frankly, we did not want to disclose this but now that a question has come up we have to say this.  These security features have been introduced as part of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) guidelines”

Speaking about the added feature to identify ‘fake’ passports he further said that more national symbols will be in rotation from time to time as an enhanced security feature.

“Apart from the Lotus, other national symbols will be used on rotation. Right now it is lotus and then next month there will be something else. These are symbols connected with India such as national flower or national animal,” he said.