New Delhi/Bengaluru: "There is no confusion regarding removing the lesson on Tipu Sultan. (Education Minister S) Suresh Kumar told me that a committee has been formed. Based on the committee''s report, a decision will be taken," Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa reignited the Tipu Sultan debate with these words, suggesting that it was time the "glorification" of the historical character needed to be undone.
But this is not the first time, Tipu Sultan, the erstwhile ruler of Mysuru, irked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its leadership in the state.
Soon after coming to power, the then BJP government led by Yediyurappa had decided to scrap the Tipu Jayanthi, which was celebrated amid much fanfare. This time, the incumbent BJP government which came to power in the state after dislodging an unstable Congress-JDS government in Karnataka wants to up the game by tinkering with text books.
This anti-Tipu salvo 2.0 by the BJP started with Madikeri''s BJP MLA Apachu Ranjan writing to the state''s Education Department. He sought the removal of any references to Tipu Sultan from state syllabus school text books.
"Tipu Sultan was concerned about expanding his kingdom and his religion but he has not fought for the freedom (of the country). We cannot call him a freedom fighter," declared the BJP leader.
The crux of this BJP Vs Tipu Sultan 2.0 is based on allegations and claims by Kodavas, a local tribe which claims they were forcibly converted into Islam en massÃ©, during Tipu''s reign in Srirangapatna, the then capital of the Mysore kingdom. The number of forcible conversions allegedly stands in hundreds of thousands, giving the BJP a reason to demand, "stop glorifying Tipu".
A final call on this is yet to be taken.
But the BJP, in its strongest opposition of Tipu Sultan, is not without its share of inconsistency and hypocrisy. While the party''s legislative council member Arun Shahpur was okay with the BJP''s opposition of Tipu, a strong move to remove him from textbooks did not go down well with him.
Recently in Bijapur, the BJP leader said: "No one can question the existence of Tipu Sultan. We neither need to glorify him nor show him in a poor light.
"School textbooks should carry his life''s story and mention his contributions without tweaking any facts."
The Chief Minister himself has in earlier instances dressed as Tipu Sultan, the 18-century leader his government wants to out to wipe out off text books.
This July, hours after Yediyurappa had ordered the Kannada and Culture Department against celebrating Tipu Jayanti in Karnataka, Congress leader and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah took to Twitter to call out the former''s double standards. He said: "B.S. Yeddyurappa took a sword in his hand and disguised himself as Tipu. Now he has cancelled Tipu Jayanti to please the Sangh Parivar."
Earlier in 2017, Union Minister and the emerging face of Hindutva in Karnataka, Ananth Kumar Hegde had refused to join the birthday celebrations of Tipu Sultan. He requested to keep his name off the list for the event.
Even before that, Bangalore Central MP PC Mohan and former Deputy Chief Minister R. Ashok were clicked in a photo where the two were seen sharing the stage of an event on Tipu.
Even BJP leaders Jagdish Shettar were clicked wearing headgear and posing with a sword, imitating Tipu which has over time exposed the saffron party''s inner contradictions when it comes to its stand on the erstwhile Muslim ruler.
But politics is a game where public memory is short lived and changing goal posts are considered natural. Hence, the BJP is once again out to espouse the anti-Tipu Sultan politics, even though it had celebrated him in the past.