Protests by BJP and right-wing outfits broke out in several parts of Karnataka on Saturday against 'Tipu Jayanthi' celebrations, which were held amid tight security, while Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy and his deputy skipped the main event here, drawing disapproval from ruling Congress lawmakers.
The previous Congress government led by Siddaramaiah began celebrating the birth anniversary of controversial 18th century Mysore kingdom ruler Tipu Sultan on November 10 every year since 2015, amid stiff opposition from the BJP and several Hindu organisations and groups.
When in the opposition, Kumaraswamy had questioned the need for such celebrations.
The main event at Vidhana Soudha, the state secretariat here, turned out to be lacklustre on Saturday, as Kumaraswamy, who is of JD(S), skipped it citing advice by doctors to take rest for three days till November 11.
As BJP and other right-wing outfits protested against the Jayanthi, Vidhana Soudha turned into a fortress with multi-layer security. Police ensured nobody could carry medicines, perfumes or even water bottles inside the venue.
Irrigation minister D K Shivakumar, minister for minority affairs B Z Zameer Ahmed Khan and MLAs Roshan Baig and N A Harris attended the main programme, where the BJP was accused of communalising the occasion.
Voices of disapproval started emerging from within the ruling coalition over the chief minister and deputy chief minister's absence, with a Congress MLA terming it as an "insult" to the Muslim community.
Kumaraswamy reportedly chose to skip the event so as not to antagonise voters in his party's bastion of old Mysuru region, as Tipu Sultan had seized power from Maharajas of Mysuru, who are virtually revered there.
The Chief Minister's Office (CMO), however, issued a statement on Kumaraswamy's absence at the event. Wishing success for Tipu Jayanthi celebrations, the JD(S) leader said Tipu's progressive measures in administration and his quest for innovation were "commendable".
He said as he was taking rest on doctor's advice.
"It is far from the truth that the CM is not taking part due to fear of losing power, as he opposes such blind beliefs," the CMO statement said.
This was the first Tipu Jayanthi celebration after the Kumaraswamy-led Congress-JD(S) coalition government came to power in the state.
Calling Tipu a "good administrator," Siddaramaiah hit out at the BJP for opposing Tipu Jayanthi celebrations, and said the saffron party leaders had attended similar events while in power.
BJP and several right-wing outfits held protests in different parts of the state opposing the celebrations.
Calling Tipu a "religious bigot", the state BJP unit had urged the state government to drop its decision to celebrate the Jayanthi.
In Kodagu district, where celebrations in 2015 were marred by widespread protests and violence, 'Tipu Jayanti Virodhi Horata Samithi' called for a bandh. VHP worker Kuttappa had died in Kodagu district during a clash that erupted during the Tipu Jayanthi that year.
BJP workers along with MLA M P Appachu Ranjan were detained at Madikeri in Kodagu district for protesting the event.
In Mangaluru, some protesters tried to barge into the zilla panchayat office with black flags where the event was being organised. Police later detained the protesters.
Similar protests were reported from Chikmagalur, Ballari, Karwar and various parts of the state.
Prohibitory orders have been clamped in most of the districts as a precautionary measure, police said.
Extra security arrangements were made in districts of Kodagu, Chitradurga, and coastal regions among others where local communities are opposed to the celebrations.
Tipu was considered an implacable enemy of the British East India Company. He was killed in May 1799 while defending his fort at Srirangapatna against the British forces.
The ruler, however, is a controversial figure in Kodagu district as Kodavas (Coorgis), a martial race, believe that thousands of their men and women were seized and held captive during his occupation and subjected to torture, death and forcible conversion to Islam.
However, the claims are disputed by several historians, who see Tipu as a secular and progressive ruler.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)