BJP’s narrative over Tipu’s death backfired: Analysts
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) attempts to create a base in Vokkaliga community in the state with a claim that the two chieftains from the community had killed Tipu Sultan has backfired, said political observers. Using the rebuttals from a prominent seer and the local leaders, the opposition has managed to project the saffron party’s claims as an attempt to insult the Vokkaliga community, they added.
The unsubstantiated claim that erstwhile Mysuru ruler Tipu Sultan did not die fighting the British, but was killed by two alleged Vokkaliga chieftains Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda, is the latest poll strategy from the BJP as part of its attempt to woo the Vokkaliga voters, who are the second largest vote bank in the state. Old Mysuru region, which has the largest concentration of Vokkaliga voters has 61 seats in the state assembly. The BJP has a limited presence in the region and the Congress and the JD(S) have historically fought each other for dominating the districts in the region.
Ahead of the 2018 election, BJP has been making a serious attempt to gain a foothold in the region. From building a 108-feet Kempe Gowda statue to PM Modi’s inauguration of the Mysuru-Bengaluru highway with much pomp and splendour, the saffron party has been making efforts to woo the Vokkaliga voters.
According to political analyst A Narayana, the local residents have rejected the BJP’s claim and even considered the false claim an insult to the community. “Whatever progress the BJP has made in the region to appeal to the Vokkaliga voters has suffered a setback because of this controversy. Tipu Sultan and his death is a part of history they are familiar with, thus creating two fictional characters hasn’t made any impact among voters,” he said.
He added that apart from the controversy affecting the BJP’s chances, the party’s inability to make a minister or a leader responsible for the region and work among the people, especially in Mandya, has put serious restrictions on the party’s chances in the old Mysuru region.
One of the biggest reasons for the BJP’s claim failing to make an effort was the intervention of Nirmalanandanatha Swamiji of Adichunchangiri Math, who is a revered pontiff in the region.
Responding to the controversy. he said: “History should have evidence like inscriptions or any historical documents. As of now, there are no historical documents to claim that Uri Gowda or Nanje Gowda killed Tipu Sultan. Hence, I ask the BJP leaders to refrain from making any such statements.”
A day after Adichunchanagiri Math seer asked political leaders to stop peddling the fictional characters of Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda as killers of Tipu Sultan and stymied efforts to make a movie on the subject, KPCC president DK Shivakumar on Wednesday stated that he would lead an agitation against spreading lies if the seer does not take the leadership role.
“The seer should take up the leadership role in the fight against the fictional characters and not invite someone for a compromise. As the spiritual head of the community, it is his responsibility to lead the agitation,” Shivakumar told reporters at Adichunchanagiri Mutt in Nagamangala.
Stating that the Uri Gowda-Nanje Gowda characterisation is an effort to sully the community, Shivakumar said: “If the seer does not take the lead in agitation, I will start an agitation keeping aside my political position. Our community is big and there is no need to beg. We have pride and strength, and we will answer this narrative. We are not cowards,” said Shivakumar, who nurses the ambition to be the next Vokkaliga chief minister.
Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai said that the truth about Vokkaliga chieftains Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda will come out after research. He also said that a prominent seer calling for restraint over the controversy is not a setback to the party. “When research happens and the day truth comes out, we will get victory. Several historical truths have been suppressed and history has been distorted across the country after independence, including Karnataka. It is known to everyone who played an important role in it then. If the truth is told now, they are unable to digest it,” he said.
However, NS Rangaraju, a retired professor of ancient history and archaeology at Mysore University, said that Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda were soldiers of Hyder Ali who protected Tipu Sultan and his mother during an attack from Marathas. “About his death during the fourth Anglo-Mysore War, it was a treaty between one Lakshmamanni, the British, Marathas, and the Nizams that led to the meticulous planning of the attack against Tipu, including the time, place and other strategies. It is not possible that two individuals could have killed Tipu Sultan, who had a strong army and was preparing to defend against the British,” he said.
The first mention of these two characters was in the play Tippu Nijakanasugalu (Real Dreams of Tipu) written by the former director of Rangayana, Addanda Cariappa. In November 2022, the play was staged at Bhoomigeeta in Mysuru and a book was also published with the same story. At this time, BS Rafiulla, the former chairman of the District Wakf Board Committee (DWBC), filed a writ petition seeking a stay on the play and the book alleging that it “contains wrong information without any support or justification from history”, and that it hurt the feelings of the Muslim community.
Professor NV Narasimhaiah, a veteran historian who specialises in the history of the Mysuru Kingdom also said there is no reference in history to these two imaginary characters in the history books. “For decades, all history books have asserted that Tipu was killed in the fourth Anglo-Mysore war after the Governor General of the British army, Welelsley, won over the Marathas and the Nizam of Hyderabad to fight against Tipu. There was a traitor in Tipu’s army by the name of Mir Sadiq. He was offered the Kingdom of Mysore if he helped kill Tipu,” he said.