HD Kumaraswamy skips Tipu Jayanti event; BJP questions intention

New Delhi: Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy has opted out of Saturday’s Tipu Jayanti celebrations owing to ill health.

The Chief Minister’s Office issued a statement clarifying that Kumaraswamy wasn’t taking part in the celebrations due to ill-health and that there was no need to add a special meaning to it.

‘Unnecessary to add a special meaning to it’

“The government is observing the birth anniversary of Hajarath Tippu Sulthan today all over the State. Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy commends Tipu Sultan’s progressive measures in administration, and his quest for innovation are commendable. He has also stated that as he is taking rest on doctor’s advice he is unable to take part in the programme,” the statement said, adding, “It is unnecessary to add a special meaning to it. It is also far from truth that he isn’t taking part due to the fear of losing power, as he opposes such blind beliefs.”

Kumaraswamy, notably, has not been a supporter of Tipu Jayanti celebrations initiated by former chief minister and Congress leader Siddaramaiah.

The Karnataka government had, last week, announced it would celebrate Tipu Sultan’s birth anniversary despite opposition by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other right-wing outfits. Deputy Chief Minister Parameshwara said the celebrations would take place under tight security.

The chief minister’s Twitter handle on Saturday morning posted: “The Government will observe Tipu Sultan’s birth anniversary today across the state. We salute his valour against the British forces. His progressive measures in the administration were equally commendable.”

On Tuesday though, Kumaraswamy, while addressing the media after the state by-polls results were declared, said, “I never said do or don’t celebrate Tipu Jayanti. All I had said was there are many communities in the country; people want to celebrate Jayanti of their leaders. If they [BJP] don’t like to be part of the celebrations, there is no need to participate.”

The BJP has claimed Kumaraswamy was staying away from the celebrations due to differences over the issue with coalition partner Congress.

To this end, state BJP cell, on Saturday morning, questioned the intention of the Congress party of holding the celebrations when the state chief himself was missing.

“While Cong-JDS govt is celebrating a tyrant Tippu, the CM himself goes into hiding, what is the point of celebrating a fanatic when CM himself abandons a govt function. Glorifying a mass murderer just for vote bank clearly shows mindset of this govt,” it tweeted.

The Tipu Jayanti celebrations, which began in 2014, have been marked by protests every year. While Tipu Sultan is considered a freedom fighter by the state government, the BJP sees him as a “religious bigot”.

State BJP chief and Leader of Opposition BS Yeddyurappa had tweeted, “In the interest of the state, the government must stop it. The government’s intention behind Tipu Jayanti celebrations is just to satisfy the Muslim community,” he added.

Karnataka on alert

Meanwhile, hours before the celebrations on Saturday, protests broke out in Madikeri against the state-sponsored Tipu Jayanti event, with protesters and police personnel clashing. Congress’ Brijesh Kalappa alleged that the protest was sponsored by the BJP. Section 144 has been imposed in the area after the protests.