For the past three years, Karnataka has witnessed a political issue consistently. Every year during the month of October, the BJP and Congress leaders begin a game of political one-upmanship surrounding the state-sponsored celebration of Tipu Jayanti.
This year too, the political blame game has begun. During the inauguration of the Dasara celebrations in Mysuru on Wednesday, BJP MP for Mysuru and Kodagu, Pratap Simha called for Chief Minister Kumaraswamy to stop Tipu Jayanti celebrations.
Speaking to the media during the celebrations at Chamundi Hill on Monday, Pratap Simha said, “Kumaranna (referring to CM Kumaraswamy) must understand why Mahishasura Dasara and Tipu Jayanti must be stopped. These kinds of celebrations seriously hurt our religious sentiments. Besides, by celebrating someone who harassed the Mysuru rulers, it is an insult to the members of the royal family,” Pratap Simha said.
Lashing out against Pratap Simha former JD(S) leader and Minister for Minorities Welfare, Haj and Waqf, Zameer Ahmed Khan said that the BJP was only trying to polarise votes in view of the upcoming elections.
“The Lok Sabha elections are coming in 4-5 months. They (Pratap Simha and other BJP leaders) think that if they speak against Muslims then they will get votes of other communities. For instance, we have to celebrate Tipu Jayanthi. Just because he said, it does not mean we won’t celebrate it,” he added.
Ever since Tipu Jayanti celebrations began three years ago, BJP leaders and Hindutva outfits have held protests across the state. The BJP has since called Tipu Sultan a ‘terrorist’, that he persecuted Kodavas and Catholics in Mangaluru. They have pitted Tipu against Onake Obavva, a legendary Dalit woman who died fighting his father, Hyder Ali, when he invaded the Chitradurga Fort.
But the BJP too has been embroiled in controversy as they had celebrated Tipu during the time of their government too.
In fact, back in 2012, the Department of Kannada and Culture had published a book titled Tipu Sultan – A Crusader for Change. Authored by Dr Sheikh Ali, the 338-page monograph speaks of Tipu’s achievements, acquisitions, and his fight against the British Empire. In the book, there is a message from the then Chief Minister – BJP’s Jagadish Shettar.
One part of the message reads, “The modern history of Karnataka covering the period 1782-1799 is known for the significant role played by Tipu Sultan, popularly known as the tiger of the Mysore kingdom. His concept of nation State, his idea of State entrepreneurship, his advanced military skill, his zeal for reforms, etc. make him a unique leader far ahead of his age.”
With the Lok Sabha polls around the corner, sources in the BJP say that the leaders are once again going to vehemently protest the celebration of Tipu Jayanti. However, no official statement regarding protests has been released by the party yet.