Row over Tipu anniversary celebrations

Bengaluru | Updated on January 22, 2018 Published on November 12, 2015

Siddaramaiah government’s decision to celebrate Tipu Sultan (who fought the British 200 years ago) anniversary has led to a fresh round of political churn in Karnataka especially in the old Mysuru (southern part of the state) region.

Opposition parties including Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Janata Dal Secular (JDS) have accused the Congress Government of playing ``appeasement’’ politics and trying to divide the society.

The celebrations which were held on November 10 has already claimed two lives in Kodugu district following riots there. Many see Tipu Sultan as a tyrant for massacring thousands and converting a large number of them to Islam. In addition to Kodagu, Dakshina Kannada district also saw protests as many communities there claim that during Tipu Sultan’s rule, his army committed several atrocities against the people.

The controversial event has also generated enough heat among the litterateurs. Noted playwright and Jnanapith Girish Karnad at a public meeting is learnt to have said that the new international airport should have been named after Tipu Sultan as he was a native of the place where the airport is located.

Karnad while addressing state government sponsored Tipu Sultan Jayanti celebration said “If Tipu Sultan was a Hindu; he would have been given the same stature as Shivaji Maharaj enjoys in Maharashtra.” He went on say, “Bengaluru airport is also located in Devanahalli, which is the birthplace of Tipu Sultan. The government then should have ideally recommended the name of Tipu.”

In 2013, Bengaluru International Airport was officially named after Kempegowda, the founder of Bengaluru.

Karnad’s remark upset the dominant Vokkaliga community, who form 18 per cent of the state electorate as Kempegowda was from their community. Giving a political colour to Karnad’s statement, both the BJP and the JD(S) criticised the playwright Karnad stating that he should stick to his profession.

But political pundits say that the Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has in fact capitalised on the controversy as he is now seen as a Muslim sympathiser and it will stand him in good stead when the state elections are held.

In an attempt to appease the Vokkaligas, Siddaramaiah was also quick to distance himself from Karnad’s statement and declared that there are no plans to change the name of the Bengaluru airport. By giving out such an assurance, he has also been able to assuage the feelings of the Vokkaligas which is expected to help him strengthen his links with that community.

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Published on November 12, 2015
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