Karnataka Congress lawmaker Tanveer Sait has announced the installation of a 100-foot statue of Tipu Sultan, drawing opposition from the Sangh parivar that demonises the 18th-century ruler of Mysore who died fighting the British.
Sait said the statue would be installed either in Tipu’s former capital Srirangapatna or on the banks of the Cauvery nearby.
State higher education minister C.N. Ashwath Narayan condemned the idea while Pramod Muthalik of the Sri Rama Sene threatened to demolish the statue if it was built. The Sangh parivar says Tipu was a “tyrant” who massacred or forcibly converted thousands of Hindus in Kodagu and Christians in what is today the Dakshina Kannada district, and destroyed temples in these areas as well as in the adjoining Malabar region of Kerala.
However, BJP member of the legislative council A.H. Vishwanath, who has recently been critical of his party, welcomed Sait’s announcement.
“Tipu was a great warrior and the pride of Kannadigas. Unlike other kings, he did not bow before the British,” he said.
“Vested interests have conspired to sully his image by rewriting history, but it cannot diminish his achievements.”
Sait said: “Muslims are hurt at the insults and humiliation (of Tipu) from the Sangh parivar. It’s high time we educated the people about Tipu’s valour and achievements.” Congress leader and former chief minister P.C.
Siddaramaiah told reporters: “What’s wrong in installing a statue of Tipu Sultan?” Siddaramaiah had as chief minister in 2016 declared November 10, Tipu’s birthday, as Tipu Jayanti and launched government-sponsored celebrations. But four days after the BJP returned to power in 2019, then chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa scrapped the state-funded Tipu Jayanti.
In May this year, an entire chapter on Tipu was pruned down to a few lines in the Class X Kannada language textbook, prompting accusations of rewriting history.
The first ever Tipu Jayanti had been marred by violence in the hill district of Kodagu when a pro-Tipu group clashed with Sangh parivar activists.
Two people, including a local Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader, died.
The proposed Tipu statue will be eight feet shorter than the Kempegowda statue inaugurated on Friday by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Bangalore airport premises.
An icon of the Vokkaliga community and a revered figure in the state, Kempegowda was a chieftain in the Vijayanagar Empire that ruled much of present-day Karnataka during the 14th to early 17th century.
Kempegowda was the founder of Bangalore.
The inauguration of the statue comes months ahead of the Assembly elections, due next summer, and is widely seen as the BJP’s attempt to court the Vokkaligas, who have historically supported the Janata Dal Secular and the Congress.
The Vokkaligas are dominant in the Old Mysore region, made up of eight districts including Bangalore and Mysore.