President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday praised Tipu Sultan saying he died a “historic death” fighting the British, days after a central Minister called the former Mysore ruler a “brutal killer and mass rapist”.
“Tipu Sultan died a historic death fighting the British. He was also a pioneer in the development of Mysore rockets (iron-casted rockets for military use),” Kovind said addressing the legislators in the Karnataka Assembly at a joint session to mark the diamond jubilee (60th year) celebrations of Vidhan Soudha, the state legislative building.
Recalling the contributions of Karnataka’s former rulers, politicians and scientists in the growth of the state and the country on the whole, the President spoke of Tipu Sultan, leading to loud applause from a majority of the legislators.
Union Minister Anantkumar Hegde, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, has called Tipu a “brutal killer, wretched fanatic and mass rapist”, ahead of the state’s Tipu Jayanti celebrations to mark his birth anniversary on November 10. Hegde also asked the state government to drop his name from the official invites to the function.
However, the President’s remarks in praise of Tipu Sultan did not go down well with the BJP.
The ruling Congress party had “forced” the President to speak on Tipu, alleged senior BJP leader and former Deputy Chief Minister of the state K.S. Eshwarappa.
“The speech was a deliberate attempt by the Congress party to make the President praise Tipu Sultan,” Eshwarappa told reporters after the joint session.
Karnataka Working President of the Congress Dinesh Gundu Rao said the BJP was only “insulting” the President by criticising his speech.
“They (BJP) are only insulting our country’s President,” Rao told media here.
The ruling Congress began celebrating Tipu’s birth anniversary since 2015, which led to violent protests by right-wing organisations in the Mysore region and other parts of the state. The BJP in the state has been opposing the celebrations calling Tipu “anti-Hindu and anti-Kannada”.
Known as the ‘Tiger of Mysore’, Tipu Sultan ruled the Mysore kingdom from 1782-1799 succeeding his father Haider Ali.