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Tyrant or freedom fighter? Here's why Tipu Sultan is a polarising figure in Karnataka

According to the BJP, Tipu Sultan was responsible for killing of Hindus and Christians. The Congress maintains the erstwhile Mysore ruler was a freedom fighter.

March 23, 2018 / 01:05 PM IST
Former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah

Former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah

The Karnataka government's plan to celebrate the birth anniversary of erstwhile Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan on November 10 is once again mired in controversy.

The Congress-led state government has extended an invitation to all Members of Parliament (MPs) belonging to the state and Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) for the 'Tipu Sultan Jayanti' event.

Several BJP legislators have already rejected the state government's invitation. Union Minister Anantkumar Hegde has said that the Karnataka government should not invite him to the “shameful” event.

BJP MLA Ashwanth Narayan said, "Tipu as a ruler, has killed thousands of people and done forcible conversion....It is a party stand. Government is trying to instigate and bring communal tension".

The issue has been mired in controversy since 2015, when the Congress had come under fire from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for starting the Tipu Jayanti celebrations. The tussle between the two political rivals had led to violent clashes resulting in death of two people.

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Now, the BJP has accused Congress of using the Tipu Jayanti celebration for political gains before the Assembly election slated in May 2018.

Karnataka's Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy said, “Any MLA or MP will be invited to an event happening in his or her constituency. It is a protocol, and has been done earlier and will be continued in future too… To attend Tipu Jayanti or not is up to Hegde."

The controversy

The Tipu Sultan Jayanti celebrations, first introduced in 2015, have triggered violent protests in the state. The celebration was to commemorate the 18th century Mysore ruler's 266th birth anniversary for the first time.

Of late, Tipu Sultan has become a polarising figure in the state. According to the BJP, Tipu Sultan was responsible for killing of Hindus and Christians. BJP also claims that Tipu was anti-Hindu and anti-Kannada.

The Congress maintains that the ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore was a freedom fighter who was battling the British rule.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said, "It is being made into a political issue. There were four wars against British and Tipu fought them all.”

In 2016, the event was comparatively peaceful as a result of elaborate security arrangements in place.

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