By M.K. Ashoka
Bengaluru, Mar 26 (IANS): The ruling BJP in Karnataka has made significant electoral gains by opposing erstwhile Mysuru ruler Tipu Sultan, but its most recent campaign fell flat after a strong rebuke by the Vokkaliga pontiff.
The saffron party organised protests across the state after the earlier Congress government led by Siddaramaiah began the celebrations of Tipu's birth anniversary. However, this time, the saffron party's calculations of projecting Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda, believed to be Vokkaliga soldiers, as killing Tipu Sultan have gone awry.
Ahead of the assembly polls, the saffron party's plan to hijack the Vokkaliga vote bank and register a victory in at least 20 to 30 assembly seats to achieve a simple majority has suffered a setback.
Minister for Higher Education, IT and BT C.N. Ashwath Narayan gave a call at a public rally to finish off Opposition leader Siddaramaiah like Tipu Sultan was finished off by Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda. Though he apologized, the development indicated the saffron party's calculations about its outreach to the Vokkaliga community.
The Vokkaliga community plays an important role in the elections and it is dominant in the south Karnataka districts. The Bharatiya Janata Party has not been able to make inroads into the Vokkaliga vote bank so far. The Vokkaligas are standing firmly with former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda's JD (S) party and the Congress.
Among the 40 to 45 seats that the Vokkaliga candidates won, the BJP was hoping to wrest 20 seats in the upcoming assembly elections.
The theory claiming that Tipu Sultan was not killed by the British but was finished off by Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda, both Vokkaligas, was put forth. However, D.K. Shivakumar, Karnataka Congress president, issued a statement that there is no evidence to prove the existence of Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda in history. He also challenged the BJP leaders to produce evidence to prove their claim.
The saffron party was taken aback after minister for horticulture Munirathna, also a film producer, announced a movie in the name of Nanje Gowda and Uri Gowda and released posters.
Vokkaliga pontiff Nirmalanandanatha Swamiji of Adichinchanagiri Mutt intervened and asked the leaders of all the parties imcluding the JD (S), BJP and Congress not to speak about Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda.
"There should not be a distortion of history. Without research, issuing statements is not tenable. There is confusion regarding the Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda narrative. Do not talk about them repeatedly. The Vokkaliga community will be harmed by these statements," Nirmanalandanatha stated.
He asked BJP national general secretary C.T. Ravi and minister Ashwath Narayan not to rake up the issue and instead submit the relevant documents to the mutt.
After this, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai stated that the BJP has not suffered any setback on the issue. "There is no question of a setback in this regard. Victory will be achieved when the truth is established through research. Many historical facts are hidden in the country and in Karnataka as well. The whole world knows who is behind all this. They can't tolerate the truth," Bommai maintained.
D. Javare Gowda (late Kannada writer) has recorded in the book "Suvarna Mandya" that these two characters are not fictional but historical. They are asking for proof of these two killing Tipu Sultan. Research must be carried out in this regard, Ravi maintained. He said that the Vokkaliga pontiff will be given an explanation and the real picture.
Meanwhile, D.K. Shivakumar has issued a warning that if the narrative of Nanje Gowda and Uri Gowda killing Tipu Sultan is pursued, he would begun an agitation as a member of the Vokkaliga community.
Addanda Karyappa, a right-wing litterateur who attempted to object to the statements of the Vokkaliga pontiff, had to face an agitation and apologize.
Sources in the saffron party said that they totally failed to get popular support this time. The BJP only managed to get a response from people opposing the celebration of Tipu's birth anniversary.
The party also removed parts of the syllabus glorifying Tipu Sultan. However, the attempt to woo the Vokkaliga vote bank by raking up a controversy over the death of Tipu Sultan has failed miserably.