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Tipu Jayanti sparks debate again in Karnataka

Days before Tipu Jayanti is observed on November 10 by the state government, the Bharatiya Janata Party and some right-wing organisations have vowed to protest the event, urging the HD Kumaraswamy-led regime to stop the practice.

bengaluru Updated: Oct 31, 2018 22:56 IST
Vikram Gopal
Vikram Gopal
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
Tipu Jayanti,Karnataka,Kumaraswamy
The previous Siddaramaiah-led Congress government had begun the practice in 2015, when it officially observed the anniversary amid protests by the BJP and other organisations.(PTI/File Photo)

Days before Tipu Jayanti is observed on November 10 by the state government, the Bharatiya Janata Party and some right-wing organisations have vowed to protest the event, urging the HD Kumaraswamy-led regime to stop the practice.

The previous Siddaramaiah-led Congress government had begun the practice in 2015, when it officially observed the anniversary amid protests by the BJP and other organisations. Two persons had been killed in Madikeri town of Kodagu districts that year during the protests.

The BJP’s argument was that the 18th century ruler of Mysore was a tyrant, who had desecrated many temples and forced a large number of Hindus to convert to Islam. However, the then state government had brushed aside the criticism and chosen to go ahead, highlighting the fact that he had fought the British.

On Wednesday, at a press conference organised by the Tipu Jayanti Virodhi Horata Samiti (Anti-Tipu Jayanti Agitation Committee), Tejaswi Surya, general secretary of the youth wing of the BJP here, said it was not right for the government to use public funds to observe the event.

“Last year, when chief minister HD Kumaraswamy was in the opposition, he had aired similar views. So, we hope he walks the talk... Else, he will face the same fate that befell former CM Siddaramaiah, who lost in the recent assembly polls,” said Surya.

The chief minister’s office confirmed that the event would be held this year, for the fourth time in a row. Some leaders from the BJP have earlier spoken highly of Tipu. At a 2012 rally, former CM BS Yeddyurappa had worn headgear similar to that seen in pictures of Tipu, while breaking away from the BJP to form the Karnataka Janata Paksha.

Historian Nanjaraj Urs, formerly of Mysore University, said the controversy over Tipu had grown with the rise of the BJP in the state. “Even Hindu kings have destroyed temples. The Marathas ransacked the Sringeri Math and it was Tipu who provided protection...,” he said.

Congress leader Rizwan Arshad said there was no question of the government backing away from celebrating Tipu. “Tipu was one of the first rulers to oppose the British and sacrificed his life in this effort,” he said.

“These protests are only a tactic to divert the growing anger against the BJP for failing to deliver on any of the promises the party made before the 2014 elections,” Arshad said.

First Published: Oct 31, 2018 22:56 IST