‘Tipu Jayanthi’ celebrations in K’taka amid BJP protests; CM, DyCM skip event

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Bengaluru: Protests by the BJP and right-wing outfits coupled with the absence of Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy and his deputy marked the ‘Tipu Jayanthi’ celebrations in Karnataka Saturday.

Tipu Jayanthi is celebrated to observe the birth anniversary of controversial 18th-century ruler of the erstwhile Mysore kingdom, Tipu Sultan.

The celebrations brought the state under a thick security blanket, amid threats of protests by the BJP and other organisations, with the main event in Bengaluru turning out to be lacklustre.

Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara, who was to inaugurate the main event at Vidhana Soudha, the seat of state legislature here, in the absence of Kumaraswamy, also skipped the function.

Kumaraswamy did not attend the event, citing doctors’ advice to take rest for three days till November 11.

The chief minister’s office had made prior announcement about Kumaraswamy’s inability to attend the function and his name was also not printed in the invitation.

Parameshwara did not attend the event as he was out of town, sources at his office told PTI, without divulging any details.

Following the chief minister’s decision to skip the event, reports had emerged about difference of opinion between the ruling coalition partners over the celebrations.

While in the opposition, Kumaraswamy had questioned the need for such celebration which was started by the previous Siddaramaiah-led Congress government.

Kumaraswamy reportedly chose to skip the event to not antagonise voters in his party’s bastion of old Mysuru region, as Tipu Sultan had seized power from Maharajas of Mysuru, who are virtually revered there.

The Chief Minister’s Office (CMO), however, issued a statement on Kumaraswamy’s absence at the event.

Wishing success for Tipu Jayanti celebrations, the JD(S) leader said Tippu’s progressive measures in administration, his quest for innovation were “commendable”.

He said as he was taking rest on doctor’s advice, he was unable to take part in the programme.

“It is unnecessary to add special meaning to it. It is also far from truth that he is not taking part due to the fear of losing power, as he opposes such blind beliefs,” the CMO statement said.

This was the first such celebration of ‘Tipu Jayanti’ after the Kumaraswamy-led Congress-JD(S) coalition government came to power in the state.

The previous Congress government led by Siddaramaiah began celebrating Tipu Jayanthi on November 10 every year since 2015, amid stiff opposition by the BJP, several Hindu organisations and some individuals.

BJP and several right-wing organisations held protests in different parts of the state opposing the celebrations.

Calling Tipu a “religious bigot”, the state BJP unit had urged the state government to drop its decision to celebrate the Jayanthi.

In Kodagu district, where celebrations in 2015 were marred by widespread protests and violence, Tipu Jayanthi Virodhi Horata Samithi called for a bandh.

VHP worker Kuttappa had died in Kodagu district during a clash that erupted during the Tipu Jayanthi that year.

BJP workers along with MLA M P Appacchu Ranjan were detained by police at Madikeri in Kodagu district for protesting against the event after he allegedly had an argument with the police for not letting those without invitations to attend the event.

Another BJP MLA and former assembly speaker K G Bopaiah was detained in Virajpet during the protest, police said.

In Mangaluru, some protesters tried to barge into the zilla panchayat office with black flags where the event was being organised. The protestors were later detained by police.

In Yellapura of Uttara Kannada district too, there were reports of detaining protesters.

Similar protests were reported from Chikkamagaluru, Ballari, Karwar and various parts of the state.

Police have clamped prohibitory orders in most of the districts in the state as a precautionary measure.

Extra security arrangements have been made in districts like Kodagu, Chitradurga, and also coastal regions among others where local communities are opposed to the celebrations.

Tipu Sultan was considered an implacable enemy of the British East India Company. He was killed in May 1799 while defending his fort at Srirangapatna against the British forces.

The ruler, however, is a controversial figure in Kodagu district as Kodavas (Coorgis), a martial race, believe that thousands of their men and women were seized and held captive during his occupation and subjected to torture, death and forcible conversion to Islam.

He is also accused of execution of Mandayam Iyengars at the temple town of Melkote in Mandya district on the day of Deepavali festival, as they supported the then Maharaja of Mysuru.

Tipu Sultan is seen in a negative light in the coastal Dakshina Kannada district too, where the Christians believe he unleashed atrocities on their community.

However, the scale of such suppression is disputed by several historians, who see Tipu as a secular and modern ruler who took on the might of the British.

Meanwhile, a group of Muslim leaders along with state minister Zammer Ahmed Khan Saturday met senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah and honoured him on the occasion of Tipu Jayanthi.

Calling Tipu a “good administrator,” Siddaramaiah hit out at the BJP for opposing Tipu Jayanti celebrations, while reminding about saffron party leaders attending similar events while in power.