- Karnataka celebrates 18th century ruler Tipu Sultan's birth anniversary
- BJP protests event saying he persecuted Hindus, Christians
- BJP says Chief Minister, deputy's absence exposes duplicity, appeasement
Amid protests and resistance from the BJP, the coalition government in Karnataka is going ahead with its plans to celebrate the birth anniversary of 18th century ruler Tipu Sultan. Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, who is reportedly unwell, and his deputy stayed away from the celebrations. The BJP has attacked the government for what it calls as the ruling alliance's "duplicity" and "pseudo-secularism".
Karnataka BJP Spokesperson S Prakash said, "Fearing backlash, they have chosen to stay away. When they had announced it, they should have participated in the celebrations. They are deceiving the voters who have trusted them. Their hypocrisy has been exposed."
Several protesters were detained this morning in Kodagu district for raising slogans and trying to block the official celebrations.
Congress minister Zameer Ahmed said, "The BJP has been protesting for the last three years. This is nothing new. They have been opposing Tipu birth anniversary celebration from the time we proposed it. They have intensified this year because of the upcoming Lok Sabha elevations."
Defending the celebrations, Congress minister DK Shivakumar, told NDTV: "Tipu is from Karnataka. We are part of Karnataka. The President of India himself came to Vidhana Soudha and appreciated the continuation of Tipu Sultan's birthday celebrations. The BJP is just doing politics."
When asked about the absence of the Chief Minister and his deputy, Mr Shivakumar said, "I am here! I am part of the government."
The Congress government had started celebrating Tipu Sultan's birth anniversary in 2015 saying the 18th century ruler of Mysore was a "freedom fighter", who was killed in the 4th Anglo-Mysore war. The new government has decided to follow the tradition.
The BJP, RSS and others, however, say that Tipu Sultan was a brutal king who persecuted Hindus and Christians in large numbers, especially those who refused to convert to Islam.
The BJP has also accused the government of resorting to gimmicks to appease the Muslim community and wasting public money on such celebrations.
The government has issued orders banning gatherings in different parts of the state, including Kodagu, which has seen violent protests on the subject in the past.
The Kodavas argue that their race was pushed to the verge of extinction after Tipu Sultan allegedly killed 70,000 of them and captured another 90,000 in Devati Parambu in Kodagu.
Even historians and scholars remain divided on the issue. Those who back Tipu Sultan talk about him fighting the British and his contributions to Hindu temples. Others refer to writings of the British and Tipu's own commander while mentioning the killings of thousands of Hindus and Christians in Madikeri-Malabar region and the forced conversions that Tipu Sultan allegedly carried out.
In the first year of the official celebrations, two people had died in violent protests. This year, the government has made it clear that no processions - either for or against the celebrations -- will be allowed in Karnataka. Heavy security has been deployed in areas where protests could get out of hand.