Chief Minister Siddaramaiah who until now played aggressively on extending the invitations of Tipu Jayanti to BJP leaders, seems to be going defensive about it now. On Tuesday, the chief minister has reportedly asked the bureaucrats not to invite BJP leaders who do not wish to be part of the celebrations.
This direction from the chief minister comes as a sheer surprise as until now, Siddaramaiah had been maintaining that it's a protocol to invite the leaders (read BJP) and it is up to them to attend or not.
It may be recalled here that Union Minister of State for Skill development Anant Kumar Hegde had written to the chief secretary requesting him to exclude from the Tipu Jayanti celebrations, organised by the State government. He even went on to reason that Tipu was a "mass rapist" and "brutal killer", hence he did not want to be part of "shameful event glorifying the killer."
In fact, his letter served as an inspiration to many other BJP leaders who too shot off a letter or at least declared publicly that they would not be part of the Tipu Jayanti. They include Mysuru-Kodagu MP Pratap Simha, Udupi-Chickmagaluru MP Shobha Karandlaje and among other BJP leaders.
Taking a strong objection to Hegde's remarks, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had claimed that Hegde's name would be printed on the invitation cards (of Tipu Jayanti) as per protocol. "Whether he attends the event or keeps himself away from it is left to him. But we will go ahead with his name on the invitation," Siddaramaiah had said earlier.
He had criticised the BJP leaders for protesting against the Tipu Jayanti. "Hegde should refer to the authentic history of Tipu Sultan before making politically motivated statements," Siddaramaiah had shot back adding that Tipu Sultan, the ruler of Mysore was the first freedom fighter. He had even taken a dig at BJP state president BS Yeddyurappa who had participated in the Tipu Jayanti celebrations, earlier.
But Hegde had tweeted that "If Siddaramaiah government insists on including my name in Tipu Jayanti invite, on the pretext of following protocol, I will attend the same." Hegde had further said that he would participate in the event only to narrate the barbarity of mass murderer. "Let the government handle the situation (sic)," Hegde had dared.
While the Uttar Kannada MP is quite vocal about his hatred towards the Mysore ruler, it, in fact, seems to have served as the worst reminder of violent clashes that could have prompted the chief minister to change his stance on inviting the BJP leaders.
It may be recalled here that in 2015 when Tipu Jayanti was celebrated for the first time, two persons including a Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader was killed during the celebrations in Mysuru. In 2016 celebrations too, one person was killed during the Tipu Jayanti that had turned violent. Besides, during the celebrations in Uttar Kannada, the Parliamentarian was reportedly arrested for disrupting the Tipu Jayanti celebrations.
This year, the Kodagu district administration has banned the BJP Parivarthana Yatra to enter the district in view of the Tipu Jayanti celebrations on November 10.
Considering the tension surrounding the controversial celebration, the state government where elections are scheduled early next year, the chief minister seems to have quietly downplayed on inviting the BJP leaders perhaps to save itself from embarrassment.