BENGALURU: President Ram Nath Kovind’s glowing tribute to Tipu Sultan as a hero of war on the historic occasion of the diamond jubilee of Vidhana Soudha on Wednesday has triggered an ugly political slugfest in the state.
At a time when the BJP has been protesting against the glorification of the 18th century ruler, who, it believes, was a ‘religious bigot’, the President’s praise of Tipu has come as an embarrassment to the party. The President’s reference to Tipu Sultan came after he noted the contributions of various historical figures of Karnataka.
Addressing a joint session of the state legislature to commemorate the occasion, the President said, “Tipu Sultan died a heroic death fighting the British. He was a pioneer in the development and use of Mysore rockets in the warfare. This technology was later adopted by the Europeans.”
Congress members welcomed the President’s words by thumping desks. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah congratulated him in a tweet “for a statesman-like address to the Karnataka legislature”.
However, BJP accused the Siddaramaiah government of misleading the President by providing false inputs to Rashtrapati Bhavan about Tipu to prepare the speech. But the state government denied any role in scripting the President’s speech.
The President’s praise of Tipu has dealt a blow to BJP’s plans to exploit Tipu Jayanti as a major issue ahead of the Assembly polls in the state. The party has drawn up state-wide agitation plans to observe Tipu Jayanti on November 10 as a “Black Day”.
Accusing Tipu of indulging in forced conversions of Hindus in Kodagu and Christians in Dakshina Kannada, BJP leaders have questioned the rationale of Siddaramaiah government’s decision to go ahead with state-sponsored celebrations of Tipu Jayanti.
Leader of the Opposition in Legislative Council K S Eshwarappa said that there was no question of any change in the party’s stand on anti-Tipu agitation.
“We will go ahead with protests against the celebrations by the state government, There is no change in the party’s decision to observe Tipu Jayanti as a ‘Black Day,” Eshwarappa said.
Recently, Anantkumar Hegde, Union Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, asked the state government not to include his name in the invite for Tipu Jayanti celebrations.
Two years ago, when the state government decided to celebrate Tipu Sultan’s birth anniversary, there were violent protests in Kodagu in which two people died.
We did not provide inputs, asserts CM
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has rejected BJP’s charges of the state government providing inputs as blatant lies. “We did not prepare the President’s speech, nor did we send any inputs for the speech,” he said. “This is not a Governor’s speech which is usually prepared by the state government. This is an independent speech delivered by the President of India. The President has only said the truth about Tipu and it is regrettable that some are trying to create a controversy,”
Historic occasion reduced to insipid affair
The historic ceremony to celebrate the diamond jubilee of Vidhana Soudha was reduced to an insipid affair as chaos, controversies and confrontation ruled through the day-long chain of events that marked the occasion.
While President Ram Nath Kovind’s address praising Tipu Sultan and missing out the name of former prime minister H D Deve Gowda made BJP and JD(S) members see red, the photo session of the legislators with the President proved a disaster of sorts in terms of protocol.
Feeling insulted at the lack of designated seating arrangement for former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy and floor leader in Legislative Council Basavarj Horatti befitting their status for the photo shoot, JD(S) legislators boycotted the event.
“Chairman of Legislative Council D H Shankaramurthy and Assembly Speaker K B Koliwad have insulted us as they are running the entire show according to their whim and fancy. As a former chief minister, Kumaraswamy should have been seated in the front row with the President. But he was asked to sit in the back row, while another former CM Jagadish Shettar was seated in the front,” Horatti said, announcing the boycott of the photo shoot.
Conveying their opposition to “big splurge” on the event JD(S) members boycotted the lunch too and refused to even drink water provided during the ceremony.Senior JD(S) leader HD Revanna, known for his staunch belief in choosing the auspicious time to stir out of his home arrived too late for the historic session. The event was over and the national anthem was being played when he entered the house.
Former prime minister H D Deve Gowda and former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa stayed away from the function.Most of the legislators, journalists and guests did not turn up for the lunch, which was a simple vegetarian spread that again raised questions about the reported spending of `800 per meal.
Passersby try hard to catch a glimpse of Soudha’s show
The lawns of Vidhana Soudha on Wednesday turned into an open ground for many who wanted to watch the diamond jubilee celebrations. Passersby on Ambedkar Veedhi Road halted to watch the laser lights show while some other stopped to take a selfie even as the traffic police made attempts to clear the vehicles. A display of the state’s schemes were projected on the building. Those without passes chose to jump the railings on the pavement and sit on the lawn to watch the show. It began as an introduction to Kengal Hanumanthaiah and his dreams.
PIL against money spent on Soudha diamond jubilee
A public interest litigation (PIL) questioning the amount spent for the diamond jubilee celebrations of Vidhana Soudha was heard by the High Court, here on Wednesday. A division bench of acting Chief Justice H G Ramesh and Justice P S Dinesh Kumar adjourned the hearing to Thursday. Petitioner S N Aravinda has sought directions to stop spending of the money for the celebrations, calling it wasteful. The petitioner, who argued his case on his own, contended that `10 crore spent on the function could have been used for some other constructive purpose.