VHP, BJP and Congress benefited from Tipu Sultan row, Karnataka didn't

Aravind Gowda
Aravind GowdaNov 18, 2015 | 16:18

VHP, BJP and Congress benefited from Tipu Sultan row, Karnataka didn't

Karnataka badly needs to improve its public infrastructure such as roads, ports, bus service, power and water supply — to put the economy back on track. But the Congress government, led by chief minister Siddaramaiah, chose to go the typical political way and organised the pointless birth anniversary celebrations of the erstwhile ruler of Mysore, Tipu Sultan, resulting in the death of four persons and paralysing the state for almost three days. Was it imperative on part of Siddaramaiah to organise the birth anniversary celebrations of a ruler whose history often rakes up sentiments among the masses?

The BJP has straightaway hit the bullseye by claiming that Siddaramaiah organised the birth anniversary celebrations to divert the attention of people, who were fed up of his poor administrative skills. Bangalore is reeling under six-eight hours of power cuts every day. Affordable housing has become a major issue in the city. The situation is not so impressive even in the rural sector with more than 400 farmers committing suicide because of mounting financial and crop losses. Investors and foreign consulate officers are complaining about the lackadaisical attitude of the Congress government. Well, the number of drawbacks of the Siddaramaiah government is too many to cover up.

The Tipu Sultan celebrations are, therefore, not sufficient enough to divert the people’s attention. The Congress very well knew the repercussions of Tipu Sultan’s birth anniversary celebrations, because it was for the first time that the event became government sponsored. It was obvious that the BJP and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) would take the centre-stage to oppose the celebrations contending that the ruler was a religious bigot.

The VHP, the BJP and the Congress benefited from the birth anniversary celebrations of Tipu Sultan. While the Congress was loud and clear that none could stop the party from organising the celebrations, the VHP chose to announce its return to Karnataka in style and the BJP leaders occupied the platform created by it. For four days, the hill station of Madikeri, where three persons died during the communal clashes, was shut down. It was a major loss for Madikeri (headquarters of Kodagu district) whose economy is dependent on coffee and tourism. The issue panned out as predicted with the BJP strongholds of coastal Karnataka, Hubballi Dharwad, Chikkamagaluru, Mysore, Kodagu and Shivamogga condemning the celebrations. Communal clashes erupted in Kodagu and Dakshina Kannada districts.

Not many know that Kodagu district has emerged as the top destination for homestay in Karnataka. There are more than 350 registered homestay holiday accommodations in Kodagu district and during long weekends, people from Bangalore and Mysore mandatorily make a trip to the hill station. The communal clashes coincided with the long weekend of Diwali celebrations and the worst affected were the holiday goers. Hundreds of bookings were cancelled and homestay owners had to incur heavy losses because of the communal clashes in Madikeri.

There is no doubt that Tipu Sultan’s reign was controversial, but back then the prevailing circumstances were different and the persecution of Hindus and Christians by him have to be viewed from historical context.

More than bringing to light the ruler’s exploits against the British, the celebrations were given a communal colour by projecting as if the Congress was concerned about the minorities. The Congress will benefit in the next Assembly election only if the party shows some serious interest in rectifying the anomalies in Karnataka under Siddaramaiah’s term. If not, the Congress will be handing over Karnataka on a platter to its political rivals.

Last updated: November 18, 2015 | 16:18
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