MYSURU – The BJP-led Karnataka government on Tuesday cancelled the celebration of freedom fighter Tipu Sultan’s birthday in the state, calling him “controversial and communal.”
The decision comes just three days after B.S. Yediyurappa, the Karnataka BJP chief, was sworn in as the chief minister after weeks of political uncertainty crippled the state.
Our Govt has cancelled observing controversial & communal Tippu Jayanti pic.twitter.com/8kTBhzdipM
— BJP Karnataka (@BJP4Karnataka) July 30, 2019
The Siddaramaiah-led Congress government had started the celebration of Tipu Jayanti as an annual affair on November 10 in 2015, and it was continued by the Congress-JD(S) coalition government headed by H D Kumaraswamy last year despite opposition from BJP and others.
According to the order, the decision was taken after Virajpet MLA K G Bopaiah wrote to Yediyurappa requesting him to cancel Tipu Jayanti celebrations organised annually by the state Kannada and Culture Department, highlighting opposition to such celebrations, particularly in Kodagu district.
Kodagu district was marred by widespread protests and violence during the first official celebration in 2015, during which Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) worker Kuttappa had died.
BJP and right-wing organisations had stiffly opposed, Tipu Jayanti celebrations, calling the ruler a “religious bigot”.
Reacting to the BJP government’s decision, former Karnataka chief minister and Congress leader Siddaramaiah said that he had started Tipu Jayanti celebrations because according to him, Tipu was the first freedom fighter in the country. “BJP people are not secular,” he said.
Stating that Tipu had worked for the development of the then Mysuru state, he said foundation to KRS dam was laid during his period and he also worked for the development of industries, agriculture and trade.
“Not with any other intention, as he was a lover of freedom, freedom fighter, we had decided to celebrate it (Jayanti). BJP with malice, because of their hatred towards minorities, they have done this. I oppose this move, “Siddaramaiah added.
The BJP has objected to the celebrations on the birth anniversary of Tipu Sultan, calling him a tyrant who demolished numerous temples and forcefully converted several Hindus to Islam.
The BJP and Congress have often locked horns over the legacy of the 18th-century ruler of the Kindom of Mysore who was also referred to as the Tiger of Mysore.
He was killed in May 1799 while defending his fort at Srirangapatna against the British forces.
Tipu Sultan is a controversial figure in Kodagu district as Kodavas (Coorgis), a martial race, believe thousands of their men and women were seized and held captive during his occupation and subjected to torture, death and forced conversion to Islam.
He was also accused of execution of Mandyam Iyengars at the temple town of Melkote in Mandya district on the day of Deepavali, as they supported the then Maharaja of Mysuru.
However, the scale of such suppression is disputed by several historians, who see Tipu as a secular and modern ruler who took on the might of the British.
While BJP and some Hindu organisations see Tipu as a “religious bigot” and a “brutal killer”, a few Kannada outfits call him “anti-Kannada”, citing that he had promoted Persian at the cost of the local language.