The detoxification of history persists in the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Karnataka. In the immediate aftermath of the cancellation of the state-funded birth anniversary celebrations of Tipu Sultan, the government in Bangalore is set to craft the next chapter of religion-inspired history. If a supposedly pragmatic school of perceived historical research within the Sangh Parivar has its way, chief minister BS Yediyurappa’s government will rename the Mysore-Bangalore Tipu Sultan Express after either Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar, former ruler of the kingdom of Mysore, or the engineerstatesman, Sir M. Viswesvaraya.
Thus will the Ministry of Railways be asked to come to the aid of the party and reinforce the spirit of Hindu India ~ within medieval Muslim India ~ on the walls of coaches of a particularly popular short-distance train. More accurately, the renaming exercise is the brainwave of the Hindu Janajagaruti Samiti, which is allegedly linked to the Sanatan Sanstha, which in turn has reportedly been linked to the killings of the rationalist scholar, MM Kalburgi, and journalist Gauri Lankesh. On closer reflection, there is nothing, just nothing, that is faintly rational about the latest bout of detoxification of history.
Facile in the extreme is the disingenuous essay towards rewriting the discipline, a breathless exercise that has assumed the form of cancelling anniversary celebrations or renaming trains. Not that the saffronite school has been guided by empirical evidence in its effort to debunk Tipu; nor is there a scintilla of source material worth its salt. It is pretty obvious that the Hindutva lobby is cutting corners by such vacuous totems of unwarranted derecognition of one of the more prominent personalities of Muslim India.
Nothing but decidedly communal is the underpinning of the Hindutva outfits as also the Yediyurappa dispensation. No less feeble is the strained explanation for a contrived reconstruction of history ~ “What is the need to have a train named after Tipu especially after Tipu Jayanti has been scrapped? It was the Congress that had named the train after Tipu. We must rename it as we have no dearth of great sons of this state.”
True, Tipu Sultan and his times have been a topic of contestation with Hindus and Christians of Mysore ranged on one side and his Muslim sympathisers at another remove. The impact of communalism has been manifest in the follow-through. First, the BJP scrapped the Tipu Jayanti celebrations ~ introduced when the Congress was in power in Karnataka in 2016. And now, Tipu Express will be known by another name. It is quite another story that Mr Yediyurappa took 25 days to put in place a “partial cabinet”. The 18th century ruler of Mysore fought the British when few dared to confront them ~ in the high noon of British rule in India. A debunked variant cannot qualify as history.