In what many see as a sign of conflict within the ruling Congress-JDS coalition in Karnataka over celebrating of the birth anniversary of Tipu Sultan, Chief Minister and JDS leader H D Kumaraswamy has chosen to skip Saturday’s events, to be launched by Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara of the Congress.
The Karnataka government decided last week to celebrate Tipu Sultan’s birth anniversary despite opposition by the BJP. Deputy Chief Minister Parameshwara, who is also the Home Minister of the state, said the celebrations will take place under tight security. Follow LIVE UPDATES here.
Kumaraswamy, who has not been an avid supporter of Tipu Jayanti celebrations initiated by former Congress chief minister Siddaramaiah in 2014, has sought to rest over the weekend. “On the advice of doctors, the chief minister will take three days rest till November 11. He will spend time with family on these days and there will be no official engagements on these days,” said a statement from Kumaraswamy’s office.
The BJP has claimed that Kumaraswamy was staying away from the Tipu Jayanti celebrations due to differences over the issue with coalition partner Congress. Several BJP legislators have asked the government not to extend them invitations to attend Tipu Jayanti programmes in the state.
BJP MP from Mangalore region Nalin Kumar Kateel on Friday claimed that Chief Minister Kumaraswamy was allowing the coalition government to celebrate Tipu Jayanti to appease Siddaramaiah.
Last week, Parameshwara said the government will hold Tipu Jayanti celebrations in the state irrespective of the protests. “The BJP protests against Tipu Jayanti celebrations without reason. Tipu fought against the British and we will ensure that the celebrations are held peacefully irrespective of protests by any group,’’ he said. “The decision to celebrate Tipu Jayanti under the aegis of the government was taken a few years ago and this will continue,’’ he said.
Tipu Sultan was a ruler of Mysore and was killed in May 1799 while defending his fort at Srirangapatna against the British forces. While he is considered a freedom fighter by the state government, he is considered a “religious bigot” by the BJP and right-wing Hindu outfits. The Tipu Jayanti celebrations, which began in 2014, have been marked by protests every year.
In 2015, Hindutva outfits opposed to the celebrations clashed with Muslim groups that took out a rally in Madikeri town of Kodagu district. The clashes led to two deaths in related incidents. The celebration of Tipu Jayanti is particularly opposed by people from the Kodagu region, citing the incidents of violence in 2015 and the historical animosity among the people of the region towards the 18th century ruler.
The BJP, meanwhile, staged protests against the celebrations at several places, including Bengaluru, Mysuru and Kodagu. Police said security has been tightened at all sensitive places.