News Analysis |
The Congress government in Karnataka celebrated the birth anniversary of Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan amid tight security across the state. The sultan was the latest Muslim historical figure to come under attack from the Hindutva fundamentalist forces in India.
The Siddaramaiah-led government made it an annual affair to celebrate Tipu’s birthday on 10th November since 2015, under the Department of Kannada and Culture. While the Congress government in Karnataka says that Tipu, also known as Tiger of Mysore, was a patriot who died fighting the Britishers, the opposition BJP accuses the king of being a mass murderer who carried out forced conversion across the region.
A BJP legislator has famously stated that he would “change the history” that cast Mughals and other Muslim dynasties as part of Indian culture.
The BJP had announced protests against the celebrations. Sporadic incidents of violence and protests were reported from southwest Karnataka. The administration imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC to avoid any untoward incident in the Kodagu district. The protests by Hindu activists and BJP workers in Madikere on Friday afternoon turned violent after people started pelting stones. A bus of Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) was damaged in the violence.
Over 100 people who took part in an anti-Tipu Jayanti march in north Karnataka’s Hubli have been detained, said DCP Renuka Sukumar. Since 2015 when the Congress government started celebrating Tipu Jayanti, the BJP has been opposed to the idea and they have criticised the celebrations claiming that Tipu was a ‘terrorist’ and that he persecuted Kodavas and Catholics in Mangaluru. The BJP has pitted Tipu against Onake Obavva, a legendary Dalit woman who died fighting his father, Hyder Ali when he invaded the Chitradurga Fort.
Many observers have dismissed the recently started BJP protests as nothing but “election stunts”. The influence of the Tipu Sultan issue is not just restricted to the old Mysore region. It can also be viewed as a religious political issue as both sides view it as a way to mobilise people on the grounds of religion. The Congress feels that through celebrating Tipu Sultan it can build up a minority vote bank. For the BJP it is the surest way to consolidate its Hindu vote, something that they have implemented in the northwestern Hindi belt.
The political gimmick of opposing the celebration of Tipu Sultan, a renowned anti-British hero, ties in with the larger Hindutva game plan of a minority free India.
Many observers point out to the fact that BJP leaders have been caught wearing Tipu Sultan style clothes in various functions before 2015. The BJP has tried to explain by saying these were pictures from Iftar gatherings but observers point out their misinformation.
Tipu Sultan appears to be the latest Muslim figure to be attacked by the forces of Hindutva in India. These attacks are crucial for the overall Hindutva plan to rewrite India in its image. In order to take over the present and future, one must undo the past. The RSS has long cultivated a mode of viewing history through the lens of religion and ethnicity.
In Hindutva dominated Uttar Pradesh, monuments built by Muslim rulers like the Taj Mahal have come under attack. A BJP legislator has famously stated that he would “change the history” that cast Mughals and other Muslim dynasties as part of Indian culture. The same logic is applied to historical mosques throughout India with the most famous example being the Babri Masjid whose destruction by Hindutva militants sparked riots across the country.
The sultan was the latest Muslim historical figure to come under attack from the Hindutva fundamentalist forces in India.
Hindutva thrives on its own version of history, which paints the Muslim rule of India as a “reign of barbarians” where Muslim rulers are portrayed as tyrants out to exterminate the local Hindus. This is evident by the recent “Saffronization of history” by various Indian states in order to inculcate a “Hindu” version of history to young students.
In the end, the political gimmick of opposing the celebration of Tipu Sultan, a renowned anti-British hero, ties in with the larger Hindutva game plan of a minority free India.