A day ahead of ‘Tipu Jayanti’, the BJP on Friday staged protests against Karnataka government-sponsored celebrations for the birth anniversary of the controversial 18th-century ruler of erstwhile Mysore kingdom, Tipu Sultan. The party, which has appealed to the government to drop the celebrations, staged demonstrations at several places including Bengaluru, Mysuru, and Kodagu, in the state.
The JDS-Congress coalition government led by Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, last week, had said Tipu Jayanti would be celebrated on 10 November in continuation of the previous Congress government’s policy, prompting the BJP to announce protests. However, Kumaraswamy is not scheduled to attend the main function here to be inaugurated by Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara.
The Chief Minister’s Office in a statement said on Friday that Kumaraswamy would not take part in any official function for the next three days in view of “doctors’ advice.” “On the advice of doctors, the chief minister will take three days rest till 11 November. He will spend time with family on these days and there will be no official engagements on these days,” it said.
Minister for Minority Welfare, Haj and Wakf BZ Zameer Ahmed Khan said the chief minister had told officials beforehand that he would be away for medical check-up and hence, his name should not be mentioned in the invitation. Police said security has been tightened at sensitive places, including Bengaluru, Mangaluru and Kodagu.
An official said the function in Bengaluru would be held at the Vidhana Soudha, the seat of the state legislature, as the original venue, in view of representations to the government from Mulsim community leaders. Parameshwara, who also holds the Home portfolio, had on 5 November announced that the venue had been shifted to Ravindra Kalakshetra here on the advice of the police department owing to security reasons.
He had said strict action would be taken against anyone causing riots or disturbing peace. Tipu Jayanti celebration events should be organized indoors and posters and banners would be allowed there only, he had said, adding that social media posts would also be monitored and action would be taken if they were derogatory. The previous Congress government, led by Siddaramaiah, began celebrating “Tipu Jayanti” on 10 November every year since 2015, amid stiff opposition by the BJP, several Hindu organizations and some individuals.
Widespread protests and violence had marred the celebrations during the first two years. BJP leaders, including former deputy chief minister R Ashok, BY Raghavendra and MLC Ravi Kumar, took part in the agitation here and accused the state government of “hurting” the sentiments of Hindus only to appease Muslims. They said Tipu was accused of killing thousands of people in Kodagu and Mandyam Iyengars of Melukote near Mysuru.
“Tipu was a tyrant and a religious fanatic. Those who tried to exalt him suffered huge losses,” BJP MP Pratap Simha claimed. The BJP also took a dig at Kumaraswamy’s absence in the event. Party spokesperson S Prakash quipped that the chief minister was avoiding taking part in Tipu Jayanti.
Tipu was a ruler of Mysore and considered an implacable enemy of the British East India Company. He was killed in May 1799 while defending his fort at Srirangapatna against the British forces. While BJP and some Hindu outfits see Tipu as a “religious bigot” and a “brutal killer”, some Kannada outfits call him anti-Kannada, saying that he had promoted Persian at the cost of the local language.