Tipu Sultan Row Resurfaces After Proposal To Rename Mysuru Airport

Ahead of the 2018 election too, the BJP dug out Tipu Sultan; BS Yediyurappa slammed the Congress' move a "gimmick" to appease Muslims, who were then 13 per cent of the total population.

Tipu Sultan Row Resurfaces After Proposal To Rename Mysuru Airport

The right-wing in Karnataka sees Tipu Sultan as a bigoted tyrant who forcefully converted thousands.

Bengaluru:

Tipu Sultan is, once again, at the centre of a Congress vs BJP squabble in Karnataka, after a MLA from the ruling party proposed naming the airport in Mysuru (which is also called Mandakalli Airport) after the 18th century ruler. "I propose the naming of Mysuru Airport to Tipu Sultan Airport," Prasad Abbayya, the Hubballi-Dharwad (East) MLA said during a discussion on changing airport names.

The statement triggered howls of protest from the opposition BJP, which pitched the 'Tiger of Mysore' into a Hindu vs Muslim narrative, against its icon, VD Savarkar, ahead of the May election.

The BJP was trounced in the election, winning just 66 of the state's 224 seats.

The row over Tipu Sultan - who historians believe was a fierce opponent of British rule in India, and died in battle against them, defending his capital of Shrirangapattana - dates back to 2016, when the then Congress government led by Siddaramaiah began celebrating his birthday - on November 10.

Since then, Tipu Sultan has been invoked repeatedly by the BJP and fringe right-wing outfits - in both Karnataka and neighbouring Maharashtra - in a bid to polarise voters; in June, some Hindu outfits staged violent protests over social media posts on the Mysuru king and Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.

In the build-up to the 2023 Assembly election the BJP's state boss Nalin Kateel, went all-out, it seemed, to trigger division among voters on this subject, including urging locals to "kill... followers" of the ruler.

READ | Who Was Tipu Sultan, The Warrior King Called "Tiger Of Mysore"

Union Home Minister Amit Shah also attacked the Congress, and the row over Tipu Sultan saw clashes before polling, including one in Yadgir after a traffic signal was re-named after Savarkar.

There was also fresh controversy over who killed Tipu Sultan.

Historians believe he died in the 4th Anglo-Mysore War, in 1799. Before this election, though, there were claims from some sections that he was killed by two chieftains from the Vokkaliga community.

READ | Who Killed Tipu Sultan? Fresh Controversy Ahead Of Elections In Karnataka

The Vokkaligas are a politically powerful section, forming nearly 16 per cent of the state's population, that hasn't always voted in favour of the BJP, and didn't this year either.

Ahead of the 2018 election too, the BJP dug out Tipu Sultan; BS Yediyurappa slammed the Congress' move a "gimmick" to appease Muslims, who were then 13 per cent of the total population.

Five years later, though, Mr Yediyurappa told NDTV he did not agree with his party's bid to engineer a Tipu Sultan vs VD Savarkar storyline. "It is not Tipu vs Savarkar... BJP's policies will be key," he said.

READ | NDTV Exclusive: Don't Agree With Tipu-Savarkar Narrative - Yediyurappa

And Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was also roped in by the BJP, and he launched a vicious attack on the then Congress government, pitching Lord Hanuman against Tipu Sultan.

READ | Yogi Adityanath's Pitch In Karnataka: Tipu Sultan Versus Lord Hanuman

In response, the Congress accused the BJP of trying to disturb communal harmony.

In October, Siddaramaiah, who returned as Chief Minister after the Congress' win this year, hailed Kittur Rani Channamma (the queen of a former princely state in Karnataka who rebelled against the British) and Tipu Sultan as "inspirations to fight for self-respect".

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