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News18 » India
3-min read

Congress Gears up for Tipu Jayanthi in Karnataka; BJP, Christians Oppose

When the previous Congress-led UPA government at the Centre had planned to name a proposed Central Muslim university at Srirangapatna after Tipu Sultan, the UCA had backed the RSS-BJP in their protest in 2013.

D P Satish | CNN-News18dp_satish

Updated:October 31, 2016, 8:35 PM IST
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Congress Gears up for Tipu Jayanthi in Karnataka; BJP, Christians Oppose
A painting of Tipu Sultan. (CNN-NEWS18)

The Congress-led government in Karnataka is once again gearing up to celebrate ‘Tipu Jayanthi’ but this time around the move is witnessing a unique formation of protestors ranging from RSS leaders, representatives of the Catholic Church, and even a Congress national spokesperson hailing from the state.

Smelling trouble, the Siddharamaiah government has transferred the onus to commemorate the 18th century ruler of Mysore on his birth anniversary on November 10 to the department of Kannada and culture that has also invited the Hindu monks of Sringeri and Udupi mutts. In 2015, the highly controversial event that triggered a national debate on whether Tipu Sultan was a “freedom fighter” or a “religious bigot”, was organized by the state’s department for minority affairs.

Tipu is particularly controversial in the southern Kodagu (Coorg) district where he is blamed for the carnage of Hindus, forcible conversion of over 40,000 and desecration of hundreds of temples in the 18th century. Protests last year against the event had resulted in dozens of injuries and one death.

Brijesh Kalappa, the AICC spokesman and advisor to Karnataka government, told News18 that he had conveyed to the government not to hold this event in Mangalore and Coorg last year.

“It was wholly unnecessary given the local sentiment. I had taken the matter further but I am not at liberty to divulge the course of events I pursued. This year too, I have conveyed that this event ought not to be held in these two districts, at least that the event ought to be made a low-key affair without processions of any variety,” Kalappa said. However, he was quick to blame the RSS-BJP for communalising the whole issue.

The RSS has already declared a “Black Day” on November 10 in protest against glorifying a “religious bigot” as a freedom fighter. The main opposition BJP has discovered a new angle this time. They claim that celebration of Tipu Jayanthi is an insult to the SC/STs as Tipu and his father Hyder Ali had invaded and killed the last ruler of Chitradurga, Madakari Nayaka, who was a tribal king. Tipu and Hyder’s army had also killed a Dalit woman called Onake Obavva who single-handedly defended the Chitradurga fort by killing enemy soldiers with the help of a heavy pestle. She was killed by the invaders later. Nayakas of Chitradurga had ruled some eastern parts Karnataka for over two hundred years and they are a part of state’s folklore.

“We are not against celebrating or commemorating any Jayanthi. But celebrating Tipu Jayanthi is the most insensitive act on part of the Congress government. The SC/STs, Kodavas and even the Catholics are against it,” RSS state convener V Nagaraj said.

The RSS leader’s words were echoed by Alban Menezes, president of the United Christian Association (UCA).

“Tipu was a bigot. He had demolished over 27 churches and took away more than 80,000 Catholic men, women and children including the Europeans. Some died on their way and the rest were converted to Islam,” he told News18.

When the previous Congress-led UPA government at the Centre had planned to name a proposed Central Muslim university at Srirangapatna after Tipu Sultan, the UCA had backed the RSS-BJP in their protest in 2013.

State BJP president and former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa has also warned the government against Tipu Jayanthi. “Tipu was the Aurangazeb of South. Several historians have concluded that he was a bigot who massacred and forcibly converted non-Muslims. Not only in Karnataka, even in Kerala he is considered an evil king even now. The Siddaramaiah government is using his name to polarise Muslim votes. If the government goes ahead with the celebration, we will oppose it, come what may. If the government wants to honour a Muslim, it can honour a mystic Saint Shishunala Sharief or even APJ Abdul Kalam. Why Tipu?,” he said.

But CM Siddaramaiah said the government will go ahead with the plan. “The RSS-BJP are trying to whip up communal tension and caste sentiments ahead of the elections. They are politicising it. The government will go ahead with the celebration,” he said.

According to a top minister in the Karnataka government R Roshan Baig, the Tipu Jayanthi would be a secular event and the Hindu seers have been invited for the same purpose. He said that Tipu had helped Sringeri seer after the Sharada Peetha at Sringeri was looted and destroyed by the invading Marathas. “We hope the Seer would attend the event,” he said.

When contacted representatives of both Sringeri and Udupi Mutts said that they were yet to receive the invitation and a decision would be taken later. The Vishwa Hindu Parishath (VHP) has already announced a 15-day statewide agitation against the Jayanthi.

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| Edited by: Mirza Arif Beg
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