Senior Congress MLA and former minister Tanveer Sait on Saturday said there are plans to install a 100-feet statue of 18th century ruler of erstwhile Mysuru Kingdom Tipu Sultan, either in Mysuru or in Srirangapatna.
While Congress leader Siddaramaiah has supported such a move, state minister and BJP leader C N Ashwath Narayan said that such a thing can never happen in Karnataka.
“I’m not alone, I will call a meeting of community leaders and take a decision on installing the statue (of Tipu) at Mysuru or Srirangapatna. How to go about it, its look, restrictions imposed by the courts on installing statues, from where to obtain permissions, whether it should be in bronze or five-metal alloys, we need to discuss all this,” Sait said.
Speaking to reporters here, the Congress leader said the intention behind the statue is to inform people, especially the youth about the realities of Tipu’s rule, and his contributions towards the freedom struggle.
“There is no scope for installing statues in Islam. If it was allowed, there would have been statues everywhere. Despite this, I have said, with an intention to bring to light Tipu’s rule which was a model for a democratic government, with prohibition, stress on education and employment, silk and wooden toys industry, land reforms, among others,” he added.
Sait’s plan comes as Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday had unveiled the 108-feet high statue of Bengaluru’s founder Nada Prabhu Kempegowda near the Kempegowda International Airport in the capital city.
BJP and several right-wing groups have opposed the Tipu statue proposal. Sri Ram Sene chief Pramod Muthalik has even warned that it would be demolished like Babri Masjid.
Responding to criticism following his announcement, Sait, a legislator from Narasimharaja constituency, said everyone including him should abide by the Constitution and that he too enjoys certain rights as others do in this country.
“Talks about vandalising the statue even before its installation, is with an intention to create an atmosphere towards disturbing the unity in the state and the country,” he said.
Reacting to a question on Sait’s statement, Union Minister Pralhad Joshi, calling it part of appeasement politics, said the BJP’s opinion is clear that Tipu was a “religious bigot, anti-Hindu and anti-Kannada”, and the government will respond to such a move at the appropriate time.
“There is a police and government system. For installation of any statue, government permission is required. Let them come with such a proposal. We will see, can’t speak irresponsibly now itself,” he said, questioning whether Sait and others will light a lamp and agarbatti (incense sticks) before the proposed Tipu statue.
Minister Ashwath Narayan said the installation of a Tipu statue will remain a dream.
“It can never happen in Karnataka. They have to do it elsewhere,” he said.
Meanwhile, questioning as to why Tipu’s statue should not be installed, Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah said: “Let them do (install) it. Doesn’t Tipu deserve it? If they want to do it, let them do it.”
While BJP and some Hindu organisations see Tipu as a “religious bigot” and a “brutal killer”, a few Kannada outfits call him “anti-Kannada”, citing that he had promoted Persian at the cost of the local language.
The saffron party government in 2019 had scrapped the annual ‘Tipu Jayanti’ (birth anniversary celebrations) that was being organised by the administration across the state since 2015 (under Siddaramaiah-led Congress regime).
Tipu was a ruler of the erstwhile Kingdom of Mysuru and considered an implacable enemy of the British East India Company. He was killed in May 1799 while defending his fort at Srirangapatna against the British forces.
However, he is a controversial figure in Kodagu district as Kodavas (Coorgis), a martial race, believe thousands of their men and women were seized and held captive during his occupation and subjected to torture, death and forcible conversion to Islam.
He was also accused of execution of Mandyam Iyengars at the temple town of Melukote in Mandya district on the day of Deepavali, as they supported the then Maharaja of Mysuru.
However, the scale of such suppression is disputed by several historians, who see Tipu as a secular and modern ruler who took on the might of the British.