Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy announced on Saturday he won’t be participating in Tipu Jayanti celebrations owing to ill health.

“The government is observing the birth anniversary of Hajarath Tippu Sulthan today all over the State. Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy commends Tipu Sultan’s progressive measures in administration, and his quest for innovation are commendable. He has also stated that as he is taking rest on doctor’s advice he is unable to take part in the programme,” a statement from the chief minister’s office read.

“It is unnecessary to add a special meaning to it. It is also far from truth that he isn’t taking part due to the fear of losing power, as he opposes such blind beliefs,” it added.

Despite strong opposition by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other right-wing outfits, the Karnataka government had, last week, announced it would celebrate Tipu Sultan’s birth anniversary.

Read | Tipu Jayanti celebrations set to court controversy yet again

CM Kumaraswamy, who has distanced himself from the celebrations, took to Twitter on Saturday and posted: “The Government will observe Tipu Sultan’s birth anniversary today across the state. We salute his valour against the British forces. His progressive measures in the administration were equally commendable.”

Security has been stepped up across Karnataka in view of the Tipu Jayanti celebrations.

“We have tightened security across the state and deployed additional forces in Bengaluru, Mysuru, Kodagu and Mangaluru for peaceful celebration of Tipu Jayanti,” a police officer had told reporters on Friday.

Deputy Chief Minister G. Parameshwara of the Congress inaugurated the Jayanti at the state secretariat in the city centre in the presence of special invitees and dignitaries, including cabinet ministers from Congress side.

The Congress began celebrating the birth anniversary of the 18th century controversial ruler on November 10 since 2015 to honour him as a patriot and for his yeoman service to the people in the southern region.

Eldest son of Sultan Hyder Ali, Tipu (1750-1799) is also hailed as the ‘Tiger of Mysore’ for fighting against the British East India Company to protect and enlarge his kingdom.

Tipu was killed in a battle with the British army in 1799 while defending his fort at Srirangapatna near Mysuru, about 120km from Bengaluru.

Accusing the Congress of indulging in appeasement of minorities for vote-bank politics, the BJP said it was opposed to the celebration of a tyrant, who allegedly killed hundreds of Hindus and Christians in his kingdom.

“We are opposing Tipu Jayanti. Nobody will appreciate this celebration. In the interest of the state, the sate government must stop it. Government’s intention behind celebration is to satisfy the Muslim community,” tweeted BJP’s state unit president B.S. Yeddyurappa.

Defending the celebration, Parameshwara said Tipu was a patriot who fought against the British and protect the people from the invaders.

“I have directed the police to maintain law and order and ensure peaceful celebration. Pro and anti-Tipu Jayanti processions will not be allowed. The event will be held only in community halls and auditoriums,” said Parameshwara, who also holds the Home portfolio.

(With agency inputs)