The Karnataka government’s decision to celebrate Tipu Jayanti every year on November 10 has, unsurprisingly, sparked protests from the BJP and its allied organizations.
Earlier this week, the state government announced that henceforth, it would observe Tipu Jayanti on November 10 and that this year, it would hold an event in the Vidhana Soudha banquet hall. It has also urged the deputy commissioners in the districts to observe the event officially.
Addressing the media, the Minister for Minorities Welfare and Wakf Qamar Ul Islam said that writers such as Baragur Ramachandrappa, Girish Karnad, B Sheik Ali, Professor Narasimhaiah and Kannada activists Vatal Nagaraj, Talakadu Chikkarangegowda have been invited for the event.
The zonal organizational secretary for Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Gopal, told The News Minute that the VHP would protest against the celebration. Asked how, he said, “We cannot disclose that now, but we are opposed to it and we will protest in a democratic manner.”
BJP MLC Go Madhusudan told The News Minute that the Congress was after the Muslim vote bank. “Tipu was not a patriot at all, he was anti-national. Tipu was not a brave soldier, he was a coward. He was not secular, he hated Hindus. He has shown his hatred by way of proselytising Hindus to Islam by committing a series of massacres. So conducting his birthday celebrations is nothing but vote bank politics,” Madhusudan claimed.
Asked how Tipu could have been anti-national when the Indian subcontinent during Tipu’s time had been divided into several kingdoms, Madhusudan said, “Don’t refer to such things. In a country like India, in a state like Karnataka, it is unbecoming for the state government.” He also accused the chief minister of not being “bothered” about the “majority sentiment”.
On Wednesday, intellectual and historian M Chidananda Murthy lambasted the state government for the move. Comparing Tipu to Hitler, Murthy said, “Hitler killed many ... similarly Tipu also killed many Hindus, vandalised temples and built mosques ... hence his jayanti should not be held, and it will be an insult to Hindus and Kannadigas if the programme is not called off.”
Other historians however, have pointed out that like many other rulers in the history of the Indian sub-continent, Tipu was not easy to categorise, and that it was British historians of India, who initially began to erroneously classify the sub-continent’s history into Hindu and Muslim periods based on the ruling dynasties.
In the past too, the BJP has opposed the celebration of Tipu Jayanti. In January 2014, when the ruling Congress had announced plans to declare Tipu Jayanti, BJP state president Prahlad Joshi had said that instead of Tipu, the state government should observe the birth anniversary of poet Shishunal Sharief.
Similarly, the BJP and Hindutva groups have been opposed to naming a proposed central university after the Tiger of Mysore. A proposal for a central university to be named after Tipu was first mooted by Union Minister for Minority Affairs Rahman Khan on his first visit to Karnataka in 2012, when the BJP was in power in the state. He had said that a university should be established in Srirangapatna (Mandya district), which was Tipu’s capital.
Even when the announcement was made, Murthy had opposed it.
After the Congress was voted to power in May 2013, the state government decided to go ahead with the university and name it after the former Mysore ruler.
Another controversy over Tipu had emerged when Kannada activist Vatal Nagaraj said that Tipu’s statue must be installed in Delhi. On Tipu’s 263rd birth anniversary on November 20, 2013, Nagaraj had urged the state legislature to pass a resolution demanding that a statue of Tipu be installed in Delhi.