Bengaluru: The BJP government in Karnataka on Tuesday cancelled the annual birth anniversary celebrations of the controversial 18th-century ruler of the erstwhile Mysore Kingdom, Tipu Sultan, being organised since 2015. The new Yediyurappa government’s move through an order comes within three days after it came to power and a day after it won the confidence motion in the state assembly.
The Siddaramaiah led Congress government had started the celebration of Tipu Jayanti is an annual affair on 10 November since 2015 and it was continued by the Congress-JD(S) coalition government headed by HD Kumaraswamy last year despite opposition from BJP and others.
According to the order, the decision was taken after Virajpet MLA KG Bopaiah wrote to Yediyurappa requesting him to cancel Tipu Jayanti celebrations organised annually by the State Kannada and Culture Department, highlighting opposition to such celebrations, particularly in Kodagu district. Kodagu district was marred by widespread protests and violence during the first official celebration in 2015, during which Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) worker Kuttappa had died.
BJP and right-wing organisations had stiffly opposed, Tipu Jayanti celebrations, calling the ruler a “religious bigot”. Calling Tipu a “religious bigot”, the State BJP unit had urged the JD(S)-Congress coalition government to drop its decision to celebrate ‘Tipu Jayanthi’ last year in November. Nevertheless, Tipu Jayanti celebrations were held at the Vidhana Soudha in the presence of Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara, even as then Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy skipped the event citing health reasons. Kumaraswamy had, however, wished success for the celebrations. He had said in a statement, “Tipu’s progressive measures in administration, his quest for innovation is commendable”.
But the BJP dispensation has not been uniform in its condemnation of Tipu. In 2017, President Ram Nath Kovind had hailed Tipu Sultan, saying he died a heroic death fighting the British, remarks that came in the backdrop of protests by the BJP in Karnataka against the glorification of the 18th century Mysore ruler. The remarks by the President in his address to the joint session of Karnataka legislature amid the raging debate on Tipu Sultan’s legacy had sparked a war of words between the ruling Congress and opposition BJP.
Details of the atrocities committed by Tipu Sultan, which makes him a contentious historical personality in Karnataka politics, were furnished in an article by the editor-in-chief Surajit Dasgupta last year for another media house where he explained why Iyengars do not celebrate Diwali: it’s due to the Melkote massacre of Brahmins. Dasgupta listed the persecution of Lingayats and of Kodava Hindus, Nairs of Malabar and Calicut and of Mangalorean Christians among the atrocities perpetrated by the son of Hyder Ali.