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Tipu Sultan tableau on Republic Day irks Hindutvites

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Karnataka participated in the Republic Day parade this year with a Tipu Sultan tableau. But this felicitation of an unmatched freedom fighter's memory sparked a hot debate on social media. This was the latest demonstration of the venom Advani and now Modi and their ilk have injected India with. Even a great freedom fighter who was martyred while fighting the invading Britishers can arouse passions in an India polarized by the Sangh on sectarian lines. Tipu Sultan was the ruler of the historical Indian kingdom of Mysore.

Moments after a giant bust of the "Tiger of Mysore" brandishing a sword glided down Rajpath on 25 January, with the commentary describing him as a hero and patriot who died fighting the British, a war of words erupted on Twitter. Critics argued that it was wrong to pay tribute to a "tyrant" responsible for killing thousands. "If we accept a Tipu Sultan float, there is absolutely no reason not to have floats of British monarchs and viceroys," tweeted "Barbarian Indian".

Tipu's life was the subject of the TV serial "The Sword of Tipu Sultan" in 1990.  A majority of Indians look at him as a hero, but for the bigoted Sanghi tribe he is controversial.

There are plans to name a new university in Karnataka after Tipu Sultan — as well as an online campaign to stop it — meaning this is a controversy that is likely to run.   

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-28 February 2014 on page no. 13

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