Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Wednesday indicated that his government is considering removing all references to the ruler of erstwhile Mysuru, Tipu Sultan, from school textbooks.
Yediyurappa, who had also cancelled state celebrations of the birth anniversary of Tipu Sultan — Tipu Jayanti celebrations were started by the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in 2014 and were to be held on November 10 this year — said the BJP government is considering dropping everything linked to the 18th century king.
“We are going to drop everything and even in textbooks also we are thinking of cancelling (the chapter on Sultan),” Yediyurappa said at a media interaction. The decision comes on the basis of a demand by Kodagu MLA Appachu Ranjan.
Explained | How to read Tipu Sultan’s place in history
The MLA had last week written to School Education Minister S Suresh Kumar and Yediyurappa asking them to start consultations with department officials to withdraw Tipu Sultan’s references from textbooks.
On July 30, the Kannada and Culture department of the state had ordered the cancellation of Tipu Jayanti celebrations on the basis of a letter from Virajpet BJP MLA K G Bopaiah — the constituency lies in the Kodagu region.
In his July 29 letter, Bopaiah had sought cancellation of festivities saying they cause communal disharmony in the Kodagu region. Tipu Jayanti celebrations in 2015 were marred by clashes on communal lines between members from outfits like the Popular Front of India (PFI) and members of right-wing groups like the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) in the Kodagu region.
During the clashes, a 67-year-old VHP activist, D S Kutappa was killed and a PFI worker was shot dead by a coffee planter.
According to Kodagu folklore, Tipu Sultan is alleged to have tricked the Kodavas into believing he would surrender to them in the 18th century, only to capture unarmed soldiers at a meeting.
The Sultan, however, is considered by historians to be among the first freedom fighters to take on the British.
During a speech to mark the 60th anniversary of the Karnataka legislature in 2017, President Ram Nath Kovind had categorised the king among the formidable soldiers from Karnataka and said, “Tipu Sultan died a heroic death fighting the British.”
The Opposition Congress has insisted that Tipu Sultan was a freedom fighter and a secular ruler. Former chief minister Siddaramaiah said removing references to Tipu Sultan would be distorting history.
“Removing lessons on Tipu from textbooks is distorting history. Tipu fighting the British is true or false? History should not be distorted. We have to teach children history and learn from it,” the former state chief minister Siddaramaiah said.