Tipu to be erased from history textbooks

Published : October 31, 2019 14:10 IST

Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa addressing mediapersons at Shikaripura in Shivamogga district on September 30. Photo: VAIDYA

Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa said in Bengaluru on Wednesday that chapters glorifying Tipu Sultan, the 18th century ruler of Mysore, would be dropped from school textbooks. “We are going to drop everything about Tipu Sultan. His name should not appear in textbooks also,” he said while speaking to mediapersons.

One of the first decisions that Yediyurappa took as soon as he became the Chief Minister in July was to stop marking the birthday of Tipu Sultan on November 10 as “Tipu Jayanti”, a practice begun in 2015 by Siddaramaiah when he was Chief Minister of the Congress government in the State.

For the four years that Tipu Jayanti was marked, the BJP in the State opposed the celebrations as it viewed Tipu Sultan as a religious bigot who had forcefully converted Hindus to Islam. It was expected that the BJP would stop the celebration of ‘Tipu Jayanti’ once it came to power, but the move to remove all references to Tipu Sultan from history textbooks has been met with anger and ridicule as a blatant attempt at rewriting history.

Siddaramaiah stated to the media, “Removing mention of Tipu’s name [from textbooks] amounts to rewriting history. Is it not? Is it not true that Tipu fought against the British? Are you going to change that?”

Yediyurappa has also been called out for his hypocrisy as he had endorsed Tipu Sultan as a freedom fighter in the past. An extract from Yediyurappa’s comments after he visited the tomb of Tipu Sultan in Srirangapatna on December 13, 2012, has been circulated on social media. Yediyurappa had written: “Today I have visited Tippu Sultan darga. Tippu sultan has fought bravely against Britishers to save our mother land India.”

The demand to remove Tipu’s name from history textbooks was recently raised by the Madikeri member of legislative assembly (MLA) from the BJP, Appachu Ranjan. Madikeri is the district headquarters of Kodagu district where the native Kodava population harbours a deep resentment against Tipu Sultan for defeating them in the 1780s. Ranjan’s demand was forwarded to the State Primary and Secondary Education Minister Suresh Kumar who stated to the media, “There is anger and resentment prevailing in Kodagu about Tipu. I have handed over Ranjan’s letter to the State textbook committee. They will submit a report in a week’s time and if the Chief Minister has endorsed this, then we will take it seriously,” he said. Nidhin G. Olikara, an independent historian based in Shivamogga who has extensively researched on Tipu Sultan, said, “History should always be taught with evidence. Even if the BJP disagrees with the legacy of Tipu Sultan, you cannot drop him from history textbooks. Will there be a blank in history textbooks for the 40 years that Hyder Ali and Tipu ruled Mysore?”

With byelections to 15 legislative constituencies slated to be held on December 5, political observers commented that this move to rake up Tipu’s role once again was only to distract the voters’ attention from the abysmal failure of the BJP in the handling of the flood relief measures in the State. The BJP enjoys a wafer-thin majority in the depleted State Assembly now and has to win at least eight seats in order to remain in power.

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