Tipu Sultan’s birth anniversary and the controversy are seen due to the difference in how he, the ruler of Mysore is observed by different groups.
Born in the 18th century, in Devanahalli (the Bengaluru of today) as Sultan Ali Sahab Tipu, he was commonly known as the “Tiger of Mysore”. He succeeded his father Haidar Ali in 1782 as the ruler of Mysore. He is known for leading the way in many technological and administrative innovations during his governance. Tipu Sultan was considered as the one who established the use of rocket artillery in battles.
He is also known for his contribution in giving a boost to the Mysore silk industry, which ultimately helped in concreting Mysore’s position as a major economic power. Sultan fought many wars against the British and the Marathas throughout his ruling period but eventually, he was defeated by Britain’s East India Company during the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War when the Britishers and the Marathas together with the help of Nizam of Hyderabad took on Tipu Sultan.
The brief history in his life and the stories and recitations in history has its way of impacting the people. The rightist party, including the ruling party BJP, anticipates certain historical chronicles that describe Tipu Sultan as a “partisan”, who reportedly forced “mass conversions” of Hindus and Christians, not only that but raided churches and temples, and was also responsible for the apparent imprisonment and killings of many.
It is said that Tipu Sultan used to call his kingdom by names like ‘sarkar-e-khudadad’, meaning ‘god-given government’. Many historians profess that Sultan wanted to see Mysore as a state where beliefs of Islam would be followed. Certainly in his kingdom, Muslim subject’s matters were given undue favor in positions of power. In his attempt of making Islam popular he made Persian compulsory in the Srirangapatna court. That meant Kannada, the vernacular language of the state of Karnataka, was made secondary.
In mere jobs like that of wood-cutters, infiltration of discrimination was seen at the time he ruled. It is also said that he twigged the taxation system, back in the day known as Jaziya, where the Muslim householders paid fewer taxes and Hindus were taxed at high rates.
It is allegedly said that in Malabar and Coorg, where he held his military campaigns, he used to call those battles ‘jihad’, encouraged the rape of women, and also resorted to mass conversions to Islam.
So, what exactly is the debate about him?
The dispute between the BJP party and the Congress party has been persistent on the Tipu Jayanti for many years now. And accordingly, both the parties have their stand, where the BJP is of the saying that the decision to initiate Tipu Jayanti celebrations by the Congress was a gratifying tactic to pursue the Muslims in the state, the Congress stance is that the BJP’s opposition to Tipu Jayanti celebrations as “communal”.
Ananth Kumar Hegde, leader of BJP, had refused to attend the state’s celebration of Tipu Jayanti and had asked his name to not be included in the invite. Because as per him Tipu Sultan was anti-Hindu and anti-Kannada and there is no need to celebrate a dictator.
Whereas, Congress party see him as a“hero” who died while fighting bravely against the British.
They argue that Tipu Sultan should be remembered for playing a crucial role in the development of the region and for enhancing the technological and military prowess of the state.
No matter what these parties have to say, Tipu Sultan is still celebrated due to this political battle, even after 200 years of his death. He still remains very much a part of our History.