Do to Siddaramaiah what was done to Tipu, says BJP minister; Congress deems it a call for murder

While Congress leaders demanded an apologetic CN Ashwath Narayan's ouster from the Cabinet, Siddaramaiah asked him to "get a gun".

ByBellie Thomas

Published Feb 16, 2023 | 3:57 PMUpdatedFeb 16, 2023 | 4:43 PM

File photo of Karnataka Higher Education Minister CN Ashwath Narayan. (Supplied)

The political discourse in poll-bound Karnataka is touching new lows with every passing day. The latest politico to join the physical and verbal violence is the state’s Minister for Higher Education CN Ashwath Narayan.

At a public meeting on Monday, 13 February, Ashwath Narayan called for violence against Congress legislative party leader and former chief minister Siddaramaiah.

A clipping of the call for violence went viral, creating an uproar in Karnataka.

With Congress leaders, including Siddaramaiah dubbing it a call for murder, Ashwath Narayan on Thursday, 16 February, was compelled to express regret for his statements.

“Else, Siddaramaiah, our Tipu Sultan, will come (back to power). Do you want Tipu or Savarkar? (Crowd says “Savarkar”.) So where should you send Tipu Sultan? (Crowd says, “To the grave.”) What did Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda do to Tipu? You should do that to Siddaramaiah, too,” Ashwath Narayan was seen saying in the video.

The reference Ashwath Narayan made to “Uri Gowda” and “Nanje Gowda” is from a new controversial play by Addanda Cariappa titled Tippu Nijakanasugalu, which claims that Tipu Sultan was killed by two Vokkaliga men.

Historians have objected to the claim, deeming it false and reiterating that Tipu Sultan died fighting the British.

The author of the play has not been able to provide any historical record for his claim despite deeming his play a “stage adaptation of history”.

Meanwhile, the BJP has been consistently attempting to promote the contents of the controversial play as part of its anti-Tipu Sultan tirade.

Also read: Karnataka BJP MLA MP Kumaraswamy sentenced to 4 years in jail

Siddaramaiah responds

Seizing the opportunity, the Congress went all out against Ashwath Narayan, deeming his speech a call to assassinate Siddaramaiah.

The former chief minister himself, at a public meeting, called out the BJP minister.

“Is this minister a human or monster? He says Siddaramaiah should be treated like Tipu was. Will you allow them to do that?” Siddaramaiah asked the crowds at the Praja Dhwani Samavesha in Bagalkot on Wednesday.

While BJP leaders have been making repeated statements that the upcoming election is between “Tipu and Savarkar”, Siddaramaiah took the “love” route to counter the hate.

“I will honour Tipu Sultan as well as Sevalal. I respect Kittur Rani Chennamma, Sangolli Rayanna, and also Basavanna. It was I who had ordered Basavanna’s portraits to be put up in every government office. Should I learn lessons from them (BJP)? I am humane. I love Hindus, love Muslims, love Christians, love Sikhs, love Buddhists, and love all of them. I also love the Valmiki community,” Siddaramaiah told the gathering, eliciting a rousing cheer.

On Thursday, he took to Twitter to throw an open challenge to Ashwath Naray, asking him to stop instigating people and “get a gun”.

Political slugfest

Several other Congress leaders and citizens also expressed outrage over Ashwath Narayan’s call for violence.

With the public sentiment growing against him and the party, the higher education minister was compelled to attempt to clarify his remarks and express regret.

Even as he said he regretted his statements, Ashwath Narayan deemed that his words were “taken out of context” and that he only meant it as a “political barb in a healthy democracy”.

A host of Congress leaders demanded action against Ashwath Narayan, while others pointed to dropping levels of political discourse in the poll-bound state.

The matter was also discussed in the ongoing Assembly session on Thursday, with Congress leaders demanding that Ashwath Narayan be dropped from the Cabinet.

Also read: Haveri MLA, 2 sons sentenced to 2 years in jail for corruption