Chief minister Siddaramaiah joined this now with his recent decision to celebrate the birth anniversary of Tipu Sultan. His decision to ask the department of minorities to oversee the celebrations on Tuesday lent credence to the charge that he was doing this with an eye on minority votes.
“It’s no secret that political parties leave no stone unturned to appease members of particular castes — both by giving tickets to certain communities to contest elections and giving them prominence in ministries. Now, they’re going the extra yard to observe birth anniversaries of their heroes, not realizing they’re disrespecting them,” said political analyst Sandeep Shastri.
To gain political mileage, the previous BJP government led by BS Yeddyurappa declared holidays to mark Valmiki and Kanakadasa Jayantis and earmarked a special grant of Rs 50,000 for celebrating Basava Jayanti and Ambedkar Jayantis as the BJP’s bid to woo OBCs, Dalits and Lingayats.
Siddaramaiah is continuing this trend. After celebrating Sri Krishna Janmashtami for the first time in September to keep his promise to Yadava (Golla) community leaders, Siddaramaiah, a strong advocate of the backward classes, announced that the government will organise Vishwakarma Jayanti from next year. This community has a population of 35 lakh in the state.
Soon after becoming CM, Siddaramaiah also announced state festivals for Bhagiratha to respect the sentiments of Bestas (fishermen community) and Devara Dasimayya, the hero of the Nekaara (weavers) community.
Shastri said jayantis in fact devalue historical figures by identifying them with a particular caste and limiting them to a single day.
A senior JDS leader said, “What was the need to start such an event when there were concerns over highly vitiated atmosphere prevailing in the country following the Kalburgi and Dadri killings? It just shows they had an agenda.”
It was brilliant political move on Siddaramaiah’s part to hold Tipu Sultan birth anniversary recently. He beat the BJP at their own game at a time when the right-wing party was getting bad publicity over rising intolerance in the aftermath of Kalburgi and Dadri killings. He used the occasion to show Sangh Parivar in bad light and swing voters in his favour.
Harish Ramaswamy | political analyst