Eighteenth Century ruler Tipu Sultan may soon be obliterated from school history textbooks if Karnataka's BJP Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa has his way. Following a suggestion from the MLA from Kodagu, the Chief Minister is considering the idea. The Congress said it is the "height of audacity" and an effort by the BJP to "divert issues".
The BJP has already said there would be no celebration of Tipu Sultan's birth anniversary, considered to be on November 10.
The "Mysore Tiger" is a divisive figure in Karnataka, especially Kodagu. Many declare him a hero and a freedom fighter and the Congress began state celebrations on his birth anniversary when it was in power. Others, including the BJP, view him as a bigot and tyrant.
This week, BS Yediyurappa told mediapersons, "Never Tipu Jayanti - we are going to drop everything. And even in text books also - that also we are thinking."
Asked if he considered Tipu Sultan a freedom fighter, he said, "I don't agree with that."
It was Madikeri MLA Appachu Ranjan, who suggested the removal of all references to Tipu Sultan from the state's text books.
Kodagu, where Madikeri is located, was an area much affected by Tipu Sultan. It was also one that witnessed the strongest protests when the Congress government led by Siddaramaiah started celebrating his birthday.
Violent protests were seen around the state celebrations and late playwright, Girish Karnad, whose play "The Dreams of Tipu Sultan" showed his fascination for the ruler, had received death threats.
The Congress has its own unshaken view of Tipu Sultan's being one of the first freedom fighters.
"I don't understand why the BJP is repeatedly talking about these things. I feel it is mainly because of their failure to administer the state -- they want to divert issues," state Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao told NDTV.
About the Chief Minister's plan to remove Tipu Sultan from text books, he said, "I think that is the height of audacity. Only a person who does not respect history, who does not respect research and knowledge, can say such things".
Tipu Sultan, he said, is a well-known figure, not only in Karnataka but throughout the world.
"Does Mr Yediyurappa know who all praised Tipu Sultan? Former President Abdul Kalam said Tipu Sultan had pioneered rocket technology. Current President Ram Nath Kovind also made repeated mentions of Tipu when he spoke in the Karnataka Assembly," he said.
In March, a collection of rare artefacts from Tipu Sultan's armoury, including one of his personal swords discovered by a couple in their attic in the English county of Berkshire, was auctioned for around 107,000 pounds.
Admitting that every historical figure will have "shades of grey", he said it does not mean that they should be eradicated from history. "Petty politics, a communal mindset driven by hate - only they can say such things," he said.