The BJP in Karnataka on Friday said that the decision of Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy to stay away from the official birth anniversary celebration of Tipu Sultan tomorrow has exposed the "duplicity" and "pseudo secularism" of the ruling alliance in the state.
The BJP has been protesting against the celebrations and is preparing for major protests on Saturday.
The party has long opposed the state government organising the official birth anniversary celebrations of Tipu Sultan, the 18th century ruler of Mysore, saying the annual event is a gimmick to appease the Muslim community.
The birth anniversary celebrations started by the previous Congress regime have been continued by the coalition government.
"The absence of Mr Kumaraswamy from the Tipu birth anniversary celebrations exposes the duplicity and the pseudo secularism of the ruling alliance," BJP spokesperson S Prakash said.
He said the name of HD Kumaraswamy "was not even printed" on the invitation card for the birth centenary function in state capital Bengaluru. "He has no ideals, he just wants to be in power," Mr Prakash said.
More than 200 years after his death, Tipu Sultan continues to be a divisive figure in Karnataka. Many people see him as a valiant freedom fighter. The BJP and right-wing groups say that the 18th century ruler was a tyrant and maintain their protest is not "communal."
R Ashok, BJP leader and former Home Minister told NDTV: "This is not a communal protest. We honour Muslim people for their sacrifice for the nation. But Tipu demolished temples and churches - and killed people. He is not a freedom fighter. Do not waste public money on these celebrations."
The BJP leaders said the protests will be peaceful, but the state government, taking no chances, has deployed heavy security. A flag march was held in Kodagu district in Southern Karnataka where a violent protest had claimed a life in the first year of protests against the official celebration. Another man had died in Dakshina Kannada district that year. These districts were among the areas that had historically felt the greatest impact of Tipu's rule.
Chief Minister Kumaraswamy told NDTV: "The celebrations will be peaceful. I have given direction to all our police officers to take care of the common man. I have also given direction that action must be taken against whoever is disturbing any government function."