Bengaluru: As the Diwali firecrackers start to fall silent in the country, an explosive topic in the form of Tipu Sultan has engulfed the state of Karnataka in what is almost an annual bout between supporters and opposers over the proposed celebration of the 18th century ruler.
Apart from the differing version of history on the person itself, the main point of contention remains whether Tipu Sultan Jayanti should be a government-sponsored event.
“Celebrating Tipu Jayanti is like the Central government celebrating Aurangzeb," T.V.Mohandas Pai, a former Infosys Technologies Ltd senior executive and start-up investor, said on Tuesday.
His attacks on the proposed celebrations on 10 November come a day after Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah reiterated that his Congress-led government will celebrate Tipu Jayanti on 10 November.
“I see that there is opposition from various quarters of society to the celebration. If there is danger to peace and harmony due to the Tipu Jayanti, the government will tighten security and still hold Tipu Jayanti celebrations," Siddaramaiah said on Sunday in Mangaluru.
Last year on 10 November, violent clashes on the celebrations in Kodagu district ended with two people dead and many injured in police action.
Some of the staunchest protests come from regions like Mangaluru and Kodagu districts and both Hindu and Christian communities -apart from political parties-where the 18th century ruler is considered a “ religious bigot" and is believed to have killed thousands and converted many more to Islam forcibly.
Even the Congress spokesperson feels that the government should not celebrate Tipu Jayanti in some parts of the state like Kodagu and Mangaluru, keeping in mind local sentiments.
“Even the Kodavas will concede at some level that he is a genuine national hero. Now we cannot go back to the medival ages to correct historical wrongs. The sentiments in Kodagu are against the celebrations," Brijesh Kalappa, a spokesperson for the Indian National Congress (INC) told Mint on Tuesday.
For many others like Jnanpith awardee Girish Karnad, Tipu was a great warrior and possibly “one of the best Kannadigas we have had in the last 500 years, after the fall of the Vijayanagara Empire", according to a 12 November 2015 interview with India Today news channel.
Karnad’s comments that he would have liked it if the Bengaluru airport (now called Kempegowda International Airport) in Bengaluru been named after Tipu Sultan since the ruler was born in Devanahalli-on the outskirts of Bengaluru turned into a big controversy. Karnad was at the receiving end of online abuse and even death threats after this comment went viral on social media.
When Mint contacted Karnad on Tuesday, he said that he had nothing more to add on the topic since last year.
Also Read: Why we love to hate Tipu Sultan
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has accused the Congress of trying to appease Muslims by glorifying Tipu Sultan.
Pai said that the state could celebrate the contributions of Mirza Ismail-the late Dewan of Mysore and his contributions to the state than Tipu Jayanti.
“Its ok for political parties like Congress and BJP to have divisive politics but it is not right for the government to appease one community to detriment of others," Pai said.
He added that the government had more pressing issues like its drop in the ease of doing business index, job growth and drought relief than to celebrate Tipu Jayanti.