Tipu Sultan or Krishnaraja Wadiyar? Mysuru Airport naming debate heats up
Bengaluru: The ruling Congress and BJP are confrontational following the proposal to name the Mysuru airport after Tipu Sultan. The BJP unit is opposing the proposal with full force and the issue is likely to take a communal turn in the state.
Minister for RDPR, IT, and BT Priyank Kharge proposed, and Congress MLA Prasad Abbaiah raised the issue in the winter session. Minister for Housing B.Z. Zameer Ahmad Khan and others supported the proposal.
Sources in Congress explain that the party wants to name Mysuru airport after Tipu to counter the BJP, which changed the name of the Tipu Express train to the Wadiyar Express.
BJP also removed the title ‘Mysuru Tiger,’ believed to be given to Tipu Sultan, from the syllabus of textbooks. The BJP government, led by B.S. Yediyurappa had banned the celebration of Tipu Jayanthi in the state.
The Congress government, under the leadership of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, started the celebration of Tipu Jayanthi in Karnataka in 2015. Sources say that the Siddaramaiah government is seriously contemplating naming the Mysuru airport after Tipu Sultan in this backdrop.
However, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and DyCM D.K. Shivakumar are tight-lipped about the issue. Sources explain that they are contemplating because the BJP would use the issue to polarise Hindu votes in the state as the Lok Sabha elections are fast approaching.
BJP MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal stirred controversy by stating that Tipu Sultan’s name should be kept for a public toilet. He urged that the airport should be named after the erstwhile ruler of Mysuru, Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar.
MLA Yatnal further maintained that the Congress leaders talk about Tipu Sultan, who massacred lakhs of Hindus. The Chief Justice of the High Court stated that Tipu Sultan was not a freedom fighter; he was a king. The Chief Justice mentioned in court that Tipu Sultan killed lakhs of Hindus and destroyed 4,000 Hindu temples, he added.
Congress leaders, especially CM Siddaramaiah, vehemently stressed that Tipu Sultan was a martyr who sacrificed his life for the country. He also stated that Tipu Sultan was a secular person, and right-wingers are projecting him as a fanatic for political gains.
Siddaramaiah maintained that Tipu had fought wars with the British and denied allegations that he destroyed Hindu temples and killed Hindus.
However, the Congress government is treading cautiously, keeping in view the Lok Sabha elections. The focus is on implementing guarantee schemes to the optimum level and not courting controversy. Siddaramaiah, who celebrated Tipu Sultan Jayanthi on a grand scale during the previous term, did not try to resume the grand celebrations. Amid heavy police security, Tipu Jayanthi celebrations were held at Summer Palace in the historical town of Srirangapatna.
The opposition is looking stronger against Congress, with BJP and JD (S) coming together in the state. Leader of the Opposition R. Ashoka has already stated that Hindus are being treated as second-grade citizens in Karnataka. The proposal to rename Mysuru airport has already taken a serious turn, and it is likely to cause ripples in state politics ahead, experts say.