New Delhi: Adding fuel to fire that is the Karnataka election campaign, Pakistan on Friday remembered Tipu Sultan, the controversial 18-century ruler of the erstwhile kingdom of Mysuru, on his 218th death anniversary, hailing him as the ‘tiger of Mysuru’. In a series of tweets posted on Pakistan’s official Twitter handle, the Pakistan government eulogised Tipu Sultan, who has off late been a polarising figure, with Bharatiya Janata Party and Indian National Congress engaging in a war of words over his legacy.
While one of the tweets posted by Pakistan lauded Tipu Sultan as an “important and influential historical figure”, another praised him as “[the] first freedom fighter because of his steadfast resistance against the British colonialism.” The tweets come just a few days ahead of the state assembly elections in Karnataka, slated to be held on May 12, where both BJP and Congress, who hold opposing views on Tipu Sultan’s historical rule, are fighting a bitter battle to win the polls.
The Pakistani government had initially posted a tweet hailing Tipu, which mentioned that “right from his early years, he was trained in the art of warfare & had a fascination for learning”. A few hours later, the official Twitter handle of the Government of Pakistan also put a video celebrating the life and contribution of Tipu Sultan.
Meanwhile, reports suggested that the Bharatiya Janata Party slammed the Congress for Pakistan’s praise for Tipu Sultan, just days before the Karnataka elections. On the other hand, Congress leaders accused the BJP of “colluding” with Pakistan to rake up the Tipu Sultan row, ahead of the state elections, reports said.
While the BJP has in the past branded Tipu Sultan as “a tyrant”, “bigot” and “anti-Hindu” who was a “mass murderer”, the Congress regards the erstwhile ruler of Mysuru as a freedom fighter who fought against the British oppression.
The controversy over the legacy of Tipu Sultan erupted in 2015, when the Siddaramaiah government in Karnataka announced its decision to celebrate Tipu Jayanti on November 10, prompting the BJP to launch protests against the state government’s decision. Ever since that, Karnataka government’s celebrations of Tipu Jayanti every year have been criticised by the BJP.
Tipu Sultan died at the age of 48 in 1799 while fighting against the British to defend his capital Srirangapatna, present-day Mandya, in Karnataka.