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On Twitter, Shashi Tharoor praises Imran Khan for paying tribute to Tipu Sultan: BJP, Congress accuse each other of appeasement politics

A tweet by Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan on Tipu Sultan's death anniversary, which triggered a war of words between the Congress and BJP on 5 May, has been brought to the forefront again with Congress leader Shashi Tharoor praising Imran for paying tribute to "a great Indian hero".

Tharoor tweeted, "One thing I personally know about @imranKhanPTI is that his interest in the shared history of the Indian subcontinent is genuine & far-reaching. He read; he cares. It is disappointing, though, that it took a Pakistani leader to remember a great Indian hero on his punyathithi," after Imran commemorated the Mysore ruler's death anniversary saying that he admired him.

The Congress leader's tweet will likely rankle the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and bring the debate over Tipu Sultan back into political discourse during the ongoing Lok Sabha election.

The BJP was at the helm of protests against Tipu Sultan Jayanti celebrations in Karnataka last year, an occasion that has been in conflict since 2015, when the then-Congress state government led by Siddaramaiah, decided that the state would celebrate the birth anniversary of Tipu Sultan.

The Tipu Jayanti Virodhi Horata Samithi, the BJP Madikeri unit, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, and the Hindu Jagarana Vedike outfits staged protests against the Jayanti celebrations in the district on 9 November, ahead of the Jayanti on 10 November.

The saffron party, which has reportedly not always been opposed to the ruler of the erstwhile Mysore Kingdom, argued against honouring him by claiming he was a "terrorist" and reminding the people of the persecutions of the Kodavas and Catholics in Mangakuru. "They have pitted Tipu against Onake Obavva, a legendary Dalit woman who died fighting his father, Hyder Ali, when he invaded the Chitradurga Fort," The News Minute reported.

In fact, both the Congress and BJP have accused each other of playing vote-bank, appeasement politics when it comes to the debate around Tipu Sultan. The Congress claims that the BJP's vitriol against the sultan is an attempt to divide the public "along communal lines", while the counter is that the Congress is trying to "woo voters from a particular community".

The BJP also accuses the Congress of ignoring the "genocide" carried out by Tipu Sultan, including the killings of Kodavas in Kodagu district and Mandyam Iyengars of Melukote. Reports also said that the BJP's campaign against Tipu is "an attempt at consolidating Hindu votes in Karnataka – especially in the coastal areas, in Kodagu, and in Tumakuru."

Soon after Imran's tweet, Siddaramaiah and BJP leader Rajeev Chandrasekhar sparred on Twitter, accusing each other of favouring the prime minister of an "enemy country". Chandrasekhar said that "it was time" for Siddaramaiah to "hug" Imran and become Congress president Rahul Gandhi's "favourite".

Siddaramaiah shot back saying, "Think before you tweet. I am not like your Chor @narendramodi to eat biryani with the prime minister of our enemy country and also not like you to compromise on ethics to please your bosses. It is better to lead a life of Tipu Sultan than like a slave of your bosses like you."

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: May 07, 2019 10:08:58 IST