Bengaluru: President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday praised Tipu Sultan while addressing the Karnataka assembly, leaving the state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) red-faced after opposing plans by the state government to celebrate the life of the 18th century Muslim ruler.
“Tipu Sultan died a heroic death fighting the British. He was also a pioneer in the development and use of Mysore rockets in warfare. The technology was later adopted by Europeans,” President Kovind said in his joint address to the Karnataka legislature, as delighted Congress party legislators thumped their tables in approval.
The words of praise for Tipu Sultan come when the state BJP and Siddaramaiah-led Congress government have locked horns over celebrating the life of Tipu, one of the first rulers to resist the British East India Company.
The president was in Bengaluru on Wednesday to participate in the diamond jubilee celebrations of the Vidhana Soudha, the iconic structure and the seat of the Karnataka legislature.
“Congratulations to Hon. President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind for a statesman like address to the Karnataka legislature. @rashtrapatibhvn,” Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah tweeted later.
Senior BJP leaders tried to downplay the statement, as the state unit stood isolated in its campaign against Tipu Sultan. R. Ashoka, BJP leader and former home minister of Karnataka said that it was the fault of the Congress, who “gave the speech to the President”.
“Our anger, opposition against Tipu Sultan and observing this Tipu Jayanti are on completely different grounds,” Suresh Kumar, senior BJP leader and former law minister of the state said.
The Siddaramaiah-led Karnataka government has decided to celebrate 10 November as Tipu Jayanti.
While a section of historians maintain that Tipu Sultan used to help Hindu temples by providing grants in his kingdom, another version backed by the BJP claims that the ruler forcibly converted people and ordered the loot and pillage of Hindu temples.