Itâ€™s that time of the year again when Karnataka debates over whether or not Tipu Jayanti should be celebrated, and this year, looks like Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy has been forced to change his mind on the issue, thanks to coalition politics. The formerly fierce critic of spending government funds on Tipu Jayanti has acceded to celebrations this time around, and the Karnataka government will be going ahead with Tipu Jayanti as in the past few years.
While he was in the opposition, Kumaraswamy had criticised the SIddaramaiah governmentâ€™s decision to spend government funds on the celebrations instead of prioritising â€śdevelopment of the stateâ€ť. He had even accused the then Congress government of playing into the BJPâ€™s hands and creating a situation of communal divide. A source in the CMâ€™s office said that this time around though, the CM had no option but to give Tipu Jayanti a go ahead. The source said, â€śKumarasamy is the CM of a coalition government, and this was a decision after discussion between the coalition partners.â€ť
On Saturday, a meeting was held between Kannada and Culture Minister Jayamala and Food Minister Zameer Ahmed Khan regarding this yearâ€™s celebrations. Addressing reporters after the meeting, Jayamala said, â€śWe will definitely go ahead with the Tipu Jayanti celebration on November 10, it is our duty. Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy has already taken a decision to this effect. BJP will be held responsible if there is any kind of untoward incident in the state on that day.â€ť
This decision comes after CM HD Kumaraswamy had publicly advocated austerity measures in the light of farm loan waivers and Kodagu floods.
Mahadev Prakash, a noted political analyst, said, â€śKumaraswamy had to inevitably toe the line of the Congress to minimise friction and avoid complications between the two parties ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. Additionally, HD Deve Gowda has been stressing that the JD(S) is secular and this might the help the party in getting some Muslim votes, as previously Muslims voted for the Congress en masse. For the Congress, itâ€™s more of a statement rather than an electoral ploy as already Muslims are their biggest votebank.â€ť
Former CM SIddaramaiah and the chairman of the Congress-JD(S) co-ordination committee, in his third year (2015) as CM had initiated an annual affair to celebrate the 18th century monarchâ€™s birthday on November 10 under the Department of Kannada and Culture across the state despite stiff opposition from the BJP and some socio-cultural organisations. The celebrations for the next two years, too, saw widespread protests and violence.
Those opposing the celebrations had maintained Tipu was a despot, an anti-Hindu who forced conversions and persecutor of Kodavas and Catholics, while ex-CM Siddaramaiah held Tipu to be a secular ruler who fought four wars against the British.
While the BJP has claimed this to be a ploy for appeasing Muslims, the Congress accuses this to be BJPâ€™s means of consolidating Hindutva vote, given its leaders have previously taken part in Tipu Jayanti celebrations.