Karnataka minister pitches renaming Haj Bhavan in Bengaluru after Tipu Sultan; BJP threatens statewide protests

Bengaluru: A fresh row erupted in Karnataka on Friday after a minister said he would discuss with the chief minister renaming the Haj Bhavan in Bengaluru after Tipu Sultan, an 18th century ruler of the Mysore kingdom.

Minority welfare and wakf minister BZ Zameer Ahmad Khan's statement drew sharp criticism from the BJP, which said it would launch a statewide protest against the proposal.

 Karnataka minister pitches renaming Haj Bhavan in Bengaluru after Tipu Sultan; BJP threatens statewide protests

File image of Tipu Sultan. Getty Images.

During a recent review meeting of the Haj committee, Khan had said that officials told him there were several requests to change the name of the Haj Bhavan, which accommodates Haj pilgrims. "I said I will discuss it with the chief minister and see...," he told reporters here.

The BJP opposed the proposal, saying it was a building for the whole Muslim community and not just for Tipu's followers. The saffron party, which had opposed Tipu Jayanthi celebrations by the previous Congress dispensation, also claimed that the BS Yeddyurappa-led BJP government had donated funds for the construction of a new building for the pilgrims.

Khan said when the new building was inaugurated by then chief minister Siddaramaiah, there was a demand by 'Ulama Ikram' (religious leaders) and others to rename it 'Hazrat Tipu Sultan Haj Ghar'. Describing the Haj Bhavan as an independent body, he said there was no need for any opposition to rename it after the ruler. He added that there could have been some opposition if airports, railway stations, parks or roads were being renamed.

"The Tipu Jayanti issue is different, this is different...Will there be any meaning if they oppose renaming of the independent body? They (BJP) will understand, they are also clever people...," Khan said.

The state government celebrates the birth anniversary of the Mysore ruler on 10 November as Tipu Jayanti. The BJP had opposed the celebrations strongly as it sees Tipu Sultan as a "religious bigot" and a "brutal killer".

Reacting to the minister's remarks on the Haj Bhavan, BJP MP Shobha Karnadlaje said at no cost should it be named after Tipu, and if it was done her party would stage "a strong protest" across the state. Claiming that people had opposed Tipu Jayanti celebrations, she said: "If the Tipu (issue) is brought to the fore again, the Congress that came in second (in the polls) because of Siddaramaiah will now be destroyed in Karnataka because of Zameer (Khan)."

Another senior BJP leader and former deputy chief minister R Ashoka said the Haj Bhavan was one of the development projects of the Yeddyurappa government, and now, the Congress was trying to hijack it by naming it after Tipu. He noted that the Haj Bhavan was for the entire Muslim community and not only for Tipu's followers. He said it was wrong, and the BJP was against the move. "Tipu is a controversial figure, he was not a freedom fighter, and he had killed and converted lakhs of Hindus...," Ashoka said.

Updated Date: Jun 23, 2018 18:35:40 IST