While the Yediyurappa government in Karnataka showed no interest in celebrating the birth anniversary of Tipu Sultan, the 18th century ruler of the erstwhile Mysore kingdom, the DMK leaders in Tamil Nadu hailed him as a forerunner of social justice.
From 2015 until 2018, the then Siddaramaiah government celebrated the birth anniversary of Tipu Sultan as ‘Tipu Jayanti’ on November 20. During the first official celebration in 2015, Kodagu witnessed widespread protests and violence, and a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) worker was killed during the clash.
In 2019, within three days after coming to power, the BJP government led by BS Yediyurappa passed an order removing all lessons about Tipu Sultan from textbooks and also cancelled the Tipu Jayanti celebrations in view of the protests.
However, the Dravida Iyakka Tamilar Peravai, led by Dravidian leader Suba Veerapandian, celebrated the 270th birth anniversary of the Mysore ruler on November 23 in Chennai. DMK propaganda secretaries and MPs, Trichy Siva and A Raja also participated in the celebrations.
Speaking at the event, Trichy Siva said “rewriting of history by the wrong people” is a major problem that the country is facing today. “Humans are being exhumed, their character is being dissected and written off. This shows the vulgarity of mankind. The BJP government should end this practice,” he said.
“The true image of a person is shaped on the basis of who writes history. They (BJP) distort facts about Tipu. The book ‘Millennium Year by Year’ gives wrong information about him. There is a Narasimmah temple near Srirangapatna, which has pictures of both Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan. If they did injustice to Hindus, how come their pictures got a place in the temple?” Siva asked.
He further claimed that former Indian president APJ Abdul Kalam had appreciated the rocket technology used by Tipu Sultan. “Around 2,000 books collected by Tipu are kept at Oxford University. He believed in the barter system. He exported goods and imported technologies. His father Hyder Ali helped Tamil queen Velu Nachiyar to fight against the British,” he added.
“In the year 1799, Tipu Sultan was killed by British forces and Tamil reformer Kattabomman was also hanged,” he added. “In 2012, Yediyurappa exited from BJP and floated his own party. During a public gathering, he wielded a sword and said that he will rise once again like Tipu Sultan.”
“In the19th century, many dramas were staged about Tipu and folk songs were composed. The book ‘Bharatha Bharathi’ published in 1970 by RSS also praises Tipu Sultan. Then why is BJP defaming him now?” he questioned.
DMK MP A Raja, who was also present at the event, said that the Dravidian parties struggled to get reservations for Hindus but still were seen as enemies of the Hindus. “Between 1946 and 1950, Dr BR Ambedkar fought many battles to include Article 15 and Article 16, which talks about discrimination, in the Constitution. But Tipu implemented the reservations in 18th century itself.”
“Tipu Sultan said: ‘We hereby declare from this date, it shall not be lawful in the Kingdom of Mysore, to discriminate against anyone on the basis of religion, caste, creed and sex’. These lines are found in his 1787 declaration of Tipu’s government, according to the book ‘Tipu Sultan: The Tiger of Mysore’ authored by Samuel Strandberg,” said Raja.
In the declaration, Tipu also said that religious tolerance is the fundamental tenet of the Holy Quran., Raja said. “Those who demolished Babri Masjid are now saying that Tipu was against the Hindus. Nowadays, the court of law becomes court of faith,” he added.
“The ruler never tried proselytisation of Hindus. The Mangalorean Catholics were under his captivity because they were not true to his sovereignty. They were held not as ‘religious prisoners’, but merely as ‘political prisoners’,” he claimed.
“He wrote a letter to the then Portuguese government and requested them to send a Christian priest since these prisoners lacked one. Even that letter is documented. But the BJP is always trying to make the country stand against Muslims. Tipu’s birth anniversary should be celebrated in every corner of the country,” Raja said.
Suba Veerapandian said it was wrong to restrict Tipu Sultan as a Muslim King. “We see Tipu Sultan as a freedom fighter. Though he was a Muslim, he patronised many Hindu temples. Many of his achievements were shrouded in the name of religion,” he said.