On March 12 when Narendra Modi visited Karnataka to inaugurate the Mysuru-Bengaluru highway, four arches were put up on the route to welcome him. One of them was named after Kempe Gowda, a chieftain of the Vijayanagara Empire, credited with developing Bengaluru, the second one after Krishnaraja Wodeyar, the former ruler of Mysuru, and the third after M Visvesvaraya, who is among the country’s foremost engineers. It is the fourth arch, however, which led many to raise eyebrows. Named after Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda, the arch reignited the debate over Tipu’s legacy before it was removed and replaced.
The Bharatiya Janata Party has contended that it was Uri and Nanje who killed Tipu. Interestingly, while Tipu died in 1799, his ‘killers’ remained unheard of till 2022.
The first proper mention of Uri and Nanje was in the play Tippu Nijakanasugalu (Real Dreams of Tipu) written by the former director of Rangayana, Addanda Cariappa. In November 2022, the play created a stir after it was staged in Mysuru and a book was published with the same theory.
Historical accounts suggest Tipu Sultan’s Mysorean rockets, the first iron-cased rockets in the world to be successfully deployed for military use, handed the British some of their worst defeats in India during the 1780s and 1790s. Centuries later, the BJP and the Congress continue to rain artillery fire in the form of barbs and brickbats over everything concerning the Indian Muslim ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore.
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