The historic occasion of Vidhana Soudha's diamond jubilee was attended by President Ram Nath Kovind. He made a rousing speech about Karnataka’s glory and also praised the legendary Mysuru ruler Tipu Sultan’s heroism while addressing the joint session of the Karnataka legislature on Wednesday, October 25.
However, this ticked off Karnataka’s BJP unit which is opposing the Tipu Jayanti celebrations planned by the Congress government of chief minister Siddaramaiah.
Speaking at the diamond jubilee celebrations of the Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru, the President said: “Tipu Sultan died a heroic death fighting the British. He was also a pioneer in development and use of Mysuru rockets in warfare. This technology was later adopted by Europeans.”
As soon as the President read this part of his speech, ruling party members thumped the desks, while the Opposition maintained a studied silence. It was evident that the BJP were not amused with the praised heaped on Tipu.
Union Minister Anantkumar Hegde from BJP had earlier written to the State government that he did not want his name printed on the invites of the celebration. A number of BJP legislators have followed suit saying they do not wish to participate in the celebration, and describing Tipu as a “religious bigot”. He also called Tipu a "brutal killer, wretched fanatic and mass rapist".
Hence the President’s speech dealt a blow to the BJP’s plans to exploit Tipu Jayanti as a major issue ahead of the Assembly polls in the state. They wanted to observe Tipu Jayanti on November 10 as a “Black Day”.
BJP accused the Siddaramaiah government of misleading the President by providing false inputs to Rashtrapati Bhavan about Tipu to prepare the speech.
“Such speeches for the President are usually written by the state government. He was merely mouthing it. This does not mean we will call off our agitation against Tipu Jayanti,” R Ashok, BJP MLA and a former state home minister, told the media.
"The speech was a deliberate attempt by the Congress to make the President praise Tipu Sultan," senior BJP leader and former Deputy Chief Minister KS Eshwarappa said after the joint session
The Congress has now released a statement refuting BJP’s claims of the party rigging the President’s speech.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said that BJP’s claims are blatant lies. “We did not prepare the President’s speech, nor did we send any inputs for the speech,” he said. “This is not a Governor’s speech which is usually prepared by the state government. This is an independent speech delivered by the President of India. The President has only said the truth about Tipu and it is regrettable that some are trying to create a controversy,” he further added.
He also lavished praise on Karnataka as a land of formidable soldiers. “Krishnadeva Raya was the greatest ruler of the Vijayanagara Empire and remains an inspiration for all Indians. Kempe Gowda was the founder of Bengaluru, and Rani Chennamma of Kittur and Rani Abbakka led the earliest battles against the colonial powers. And more recently, two of the four finest Army Chiefs, Field Marshal KM Cariappa and Gen KS Thimmayya, were sons of Karnataka,” he said.