Every year before Tipu Jayanti, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) begin sparring with each other.
This time as well, the BJP decided to make it clear that they are against celebrating Tipu Jayanti in Karnataka. Pratap Simha, the BJP MP for Mysore and Kodagu, publicly asked Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy to avoid celebrations this year.
During the inauguration of the Dasara celebrations in Mysore on October 8, he said, "Kumaranna must understand why Mahishasura Dasara and Tipu Jayanti must be stopped. These kinds of celebrations seriously hurt our religious sentiments. Besides, celebrating someone who harassed the Mysore rulers is an insult to the members of the royal family."
Taking on the BJP MP for his statement on Tipu Jayanti, Zameer Ahmed Khan, Minister for Minorities Welfare, Haj and Waqf said that the protest was being done keeping in mind the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. "The Lok Sabha elections are coming in 4-5 months. They think that if they speak against Muslims then they will get votes of other communities. For instance, we have to celebrate Tipu Jayanti. Just because he said, it does not mean we won't celebrate it," he said.
Even Eshwar Khandre, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) working president told India Today TV that Pratap Simha is a "communal man with his own agenda".
"He always instigates communal trouble in the state and there is no need to give any importance to his statement," he added.
The Congress party has continued to maintain that Tipu Sultan helped in building a progressive Mysore state. (Photo: India Today)
However, S Prakash, a BJP state spokesperson, said his party has always opposed Tipu Jayanti celebrations and that people have always rejected it outright, as seen in the assembly polls where the Congress lost. He added, “Siddaramaiah paid a heavy price for this and if Kumaraswamy continues, I am sure people will punish him also.”
The saffron party has time and again also stated that Tipu Sultan, the ruler of then Mysore from 1782 till his death in 1799, slaughtered several Hindus in Srirangapatna — his seat of power — and in Kodagu, which he invaded during his reign.
But the BJP has also been guilty of honouring Tipu Sultan, albeit in a different way. Pictures of former chief ministers BS Yeddyurappa and Jagadish Shettar, posing as Tipu Sultan, have started doing the rounds on social media. What is worse for the saffron party is that both the former CMs have attended Tipu Sultan Jayanti events when they were in power from 2008-2013.
Even President Ramnath Kovind, when he visited Karnataka, made a speech hailing Tipu Sultan. He said Tipu “died a heroic death fighting the British”, while addressing a joint session of the Karnataka legislature on 25 October, 2017. This statement really did not help the BJP cause.
The Congress party has continued to maintain that Tipu Sultan, popularly known as the “Tiger of Mysore”, helped in building a progressive Mysore state and gave it technological prowess.
For the Congress, the minority Muslim votes are of prime importance especially at a time when the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) has been gaining ground in Mangalore and nearby areas.
But for many others, both the political parties are only using Tipu Sultan’s name for electoral gains. Once elections are over, neither party would care for Tipu Sultan. A visit to Tipu’s palaces in Srirangapatna will shock any historian with the way it has been “maintained”.
The Tipu Jayanti issue was exacerbated in 2017 because of then-upcoming assembly elections in the state. Both sides hardened their stands on the issue back then and the same seems to be happening again, now in the run up to the 2019 elections. That a certain stance on the Tipu issue has helped reap dividends in the assembly election is something nobody knows for sure, but the BJP has fired the first shot this time anticipating it will, for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
But, year after year, even with Tipu Jayanti attracting a lot of flak from critics, the state government (whichever party it is) has never actually stopped celebrating it.