- While BJP dubs Tipu Sultan a "tyrant", Congress calls him freedom fighter
- Launched under Siddaramaiah, Tipu Jayanti had earlier sparked clashes
- Congress said government's move shows its attitude towards minorities
The birthday of 18th century ruler Tipu Sultan will no longer be celebrated as an official festival in Karnataka, in keeping with a directive from the BS Yediyurappa-led BJP government today. The BJP opposes any celebration related to Tipu Sultan on the grounds that he was a "tyrant".
"Our government has cancelled observing the controversial and communal Tipu Jayanti," the party tweeted today, four days after taking over the reins of the state.
There is a history to this. When the Congress first announced that the state would celebrate the birthday of Tipu Sultan in November every year, the BJP and other right-wing groups broke out in protests. It sparked off violence, especially in regions where Tipu Sultan had ruled, even resulting in the death of a man in 2015.
Although the then government continued holding the annual event under heightened security, debates over the Muslim ruler's role in shaping Karnataka and its adjoining regions refused to die down. The questions asked were the same: Was he a freedom fighter or a tyrant? A man who contributed to society or a bigot?
Bengaluru South lawmaker Tejasvi Surya applauded the BS Yediyurappa government for calling off the festival. "Tippu Sultan was a tyrant who massacred thousands of Hindus, and it is shameful that previous governments felt it was their duty to honour him with a Jayanti. Shri @BSYBJP govt now undoing all the wrongs of the mismatched coalition, one master stroke at a time," he tweeted.
Tippu Sultan was a tyrant who massacred thousands of Hindus and it was shameful the previous Govts felt it was their duty to honour him with a Jayanti.— Tejasvi Surya (@Tejasvi_Surya) July 30, 2019
Shri @BSYBJP govt now undoing all the wrongs of the mismatched coalition, one master stroke at a time. https://t.co/pL5oplIVjI
The Congress, however, clearly views him as a hero. Reacting to the new BJP government's decision, former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said: "Tipu fought against the British rule. According to me, he was the first freedom fighter in this country. That is why we celebrate Tipu Jayanti. But for the BJP, Tipu was a minority man. They are against minorities in this country, they are not secular. Their ideology also (shows that) they are not at all secular. I oppose it 100%."
He later tweeted:
The decision to discontinue Tipu Jayanthi by @BJP4Karnataka is wrong & a big mistake. Tipu was not recognised just because he is from minority community but because of his contribution as a ruler. He fought bravely against British & initiated many development works.@INCKarnataka— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) July 30, 2019
Many see this is an early indication of the policies likely to be followed by the BS Yediyurappa government, which sailed through a trust vote in the Karnataka assembly yesterday. The previous Congress-Janata Dal Secular collapsed earlier this month after over 16 lawmakers from both the parties resigned, and two independents switched sides in favour of the BJP.