Bengaluru: Back in 2015, when the Congress government in Karnataka decided to start celebrating the birth anniversary of 18th century ruler Tipu Sultan, it may not have anticipated the fallout of that decision. For the third year running, the party's plans have run into controversy.
The clear message from the opposition state unit of the BJP when it comes to celebrating Tipu Jayanthi is - count us out.
"Tipu as a ruler, he has killed thousands of people and done forcible conversion....It is a party stand. Government is trying to instigate and bring communal tension," said BJP MLA Ashwath Narayan.
Union minister Ananth Kumar Hegde has instructed state government officials not to add his name to the invitation for any event associated with such celebrations.
Mr Hegde, who is from Uttara Kannada district, became a minister in the union cabinet earlier this year as union minister of state for skill development. Mr Hegde has faced controversies in the past, including being accused of communal hate speech and fighting with a doctor in a hospital over treatment of his mother.
Mr Hegde condemned the decision of the state government to continue with the birthday celebrations despite what he said was the wishes of the people and protests that led to violence.
"If he thinks it is below his dignity to participate, we are not going to force him to participate," KPCC Working President Dinesh Gundu Rao said reacting to Mr Hegde's statement.
In 2015, two people died in protests connected to the event. Last year, the event was more peaceful following elaborate security arrangements in place.