New target: Tipu Express
The Sangh parivar has embarked on a mission to rename the Tipu Express, a train that connects Bangalore with Mysore, after the Karnataka government scrapped state-funded celebrations on Tipu Sultan’s birth anniversary.
The Hindu Janajagruti Samiti has written to chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa of the BJP demanding that the train be renamed after either Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar, former ruler of the Mysore kingdom, or engineer-statesman Sir M. Viswesvaraya.
“We met the chief minister with this demand on August 14, after the government scrapped Tipu Jayanti,” Samiti leader Mohan Gowda told The Telegraph on Thursday.
The Samiti is closely linked to the Sanathan Sanstha, the outfit that has been linked to the murders of rationalist scholar M.M. Kalburgi and journalist Gauri Lankesh.
“Where is the need to have a train named after a man like Tipu, especially after Tipu Jayanti is gone?” asked Gowda.
“It was the Congress that had named the train after Tipu. We must rename it as we have no dearth of great sons of this state,” he added.
A source in the chief minister’s office said the Samiti’s letter had been received.
In one of the first decisions after assuming charge as chief minister, Yediyurappa had scrapped the state-funded Tipu Jayanti celebrations that began in 2016.
Then Congress chief minister P.C. Siddaramaiah had declared November 10 as Tipu Jayanti, much to the chagrin of the BJP and the Sangh parivar.
While the government organised programmes at the state and district levels, the BJP and the RSS used to observe it as a “black day” by holding protests.
Public opinion on the 18th century ruler of Mysore has always been divided. Hindus in Kodagu district and Christians in Mangalore still believe that Tipu’s army had massacred their ancestors who refused to embrace Islam, and demolished hundreds of temples.
The BJP and its allies call Tipu a “mass murderer” and “despot”.
But admirers of Tipu, known as the Tiger of Mysore for his valour, do not agree with the allegations.
“First they scrapped Tipu Jayanti, now they want the Tipu Express renamed. All these point to the impact of the scourge called communalism,”
Sardar Qureshi, the president of the Tipu United Front, told this newspaper.
“All these show that these communal forces will not stop at anything. Today it is a train’s name, tomorrow it will be something else. These groups have only one aim — to create disharmony in the country,” Qureshi added.
He urged the Sangh parivar to read up on Tipu to better understand him. “He fought the British when few dared to fight them. That makes him a true freedom fighter,” Qureshi said.
A fringe group called the Hindu Sena had last year written to the railway minister urging him to change the name of the Tipu Express.
The fresh call to rename the train has kicked off a Twitter campaign in which many have made unsubstantiated allegations against Tipu.
“Tipu converted 50,000 Hindus to Muslims in one day, thousands of Hindus jumped into the Kaveri to end their lives rather than getting converted…,” wrote a user named Ashwini Nawale.
“BJP govt cancelled Tipu birthday celebrations. Now plz rename Tipu Express,” tweeted Devesh Singh.
Some social media users are in favour of renaming the Tipu Express after former Union minister Ananth Kumar, who passed away last year.