Historians dare BJP after ‘Uri Gowda-Nanje Gowda’ arches surface and vanish ahead of PM Modi visit

Historians question BJP's false narrative and distortion of historical facts; Dr Chikkerange dares BJP to rename highway after 'Tipu killers'.

ByBellie Thomas

Published Mar 14, 2023 | 5:50 PMUpdated Mar 14, 2023 | 5:50 PM

Historians dare BJP after ‘Uri Gowda-Nanje Gowda’ arches surface and vanish ahead of PM Modi visit

A temporary arch named after Vokkaliga seer Balagangadharanatha Swamiji welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Mandya district in Karnataka on Sunday, 12 March. But it was not what the BJP wanted.

The huge arch across the Bengaluru-Mysuru Express Highway at Mandya district’s entry point was reportedly a correction of a false narrative, apparently being peddled for electoral gains.

A day ago, the arch was named after ‘Uri Gowda’ and ‘Nanje Gowda’, purportedly two fictitious Vokkaliga chieftains and brothers, who BJP claims “killed” Tipu Sultan, the ruler of the erstwhile kingdom of Mysuru.

The BJP has been invoking the names of Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda to make inroads into the Vokkaliga-dominated old-Mysuru region.

BJP leaders from the powerful community, Dr CN Ashwath Narayana and CT Ravi, have been promoting the narrative that the chieftains had killed the Muslim ruler.

The arch of contention

However, historians consider the characters fictitious, created as part of the saffron party’s anti-Tipu Sultan pitch ahead of the 2023 Assembly polls.

Tipu Sultan. (Wikimedia Commons)

Tipu Sultan. (Wikimedia Commons)

the BJP supporters installed the arch on Saturday, 11 March, on the Express Highway, which Modi inaugurated on Sunday.

Named Uri Gowda and Dodda Nanje Gowda Mahadhwara (main entrance), it also carried the image of the prime minister.

Following a public outcry over the distortion of historical facts, the Mandya district administration replaced it overnight with the poster of Balagangadharanatha Swamiji, a renowned seer of the Vokkaligas.

Naming the arch after two fictitious characters at the prime minister’s event has been widely viewed as a deliberate attempt to legitimise them and further augment the BJP’s anti-Tipu Sultan narrative.

BJP stands its ground

BJP National General Secretary CT Ravi told South First that he was not aware of who had removed the original arch.

“I came to know about it (the removal of the arch) on social media. I was on a trip to North Karnataka. Rani Chennamma, Sangolli Rayannna, Uri Gowda, and Nanje Gowda are all icons that Kannadigas look up to, and people will get to know about them, about what they had done for this land,” he said.

“They cannot conceal facts just by removing the arch,” he added.

“Whatever they have done is wrong. They are trying to take away the credit due to the two icons. We are planning to construct a permanent structure at the same place, Mahadhwara, Mandya’s entrance,” Ravi told reporters on Tuesday, 14 March.

Historians disagreed and questioned the legitimacy of the BJP’s narrative on Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda.

Historian dares BJP leaders

Renowned historian Dr Talakadu Chikkerange Gowda told South First that politicians and ministers should remain within their realm and carry out their work.

“They have no authority to distort historical facts or introduce characters into history according to their whims and fancies,” he opined.

Gowda said that there are competent authorities — historians who have researched in detail and studied evidence and records. Some of them even have doctorates and they are qualified to comment on the subject.

“I dare the BJP politicians, Ashwath Narayan and CT Ravi, to rename the Mysore-Bengaluru Express Highway as Uri Gowda-Nanje Gowda Express Highway,” the historian did not hide his anger.

“If they apply for renaming the highway, they will learn a lesson. Both state and the Centre will ask for historical evidence and records. I wonder where they will find the records of these two characters,” Chikkerange Gowda asked.

Where are their statues?

The academician also put forth a hypothetical question. “Let us assume for once that Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda did kill Tipu Sultan. If the two Vokkaliga chieftains had killed Tipu, the then king of Mysore would have gifted half of his empire to the brothers,” he said.

“Their statues, too, would have been installed. Where are the records of the gifts that were given to Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda, and where are their statutes,” Chikkerange Gowda asked.

Recalling the benevolence of the king, the historian drew attention to the statue of a postman in Mysuru. The king installed his statue in recognition of his contribution to the Anche (post) department.

Basappa or Anche Basappa was a postman during the reign of Maharaja Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar.

The king had also installed a statue of a gardener at the Bengaluru Palace, honouring him for his exemplary work,” Chikkerange Gowda added.

Also read: Tipu Express to Wodeyar Express: Sultan’s family is not surprised

‘Distortion of history’

“I am hundred percent sure that these two characters and their names have been invented by the BJP for its community-based propaganda for winning votes,” historian and retired Professor PV Nanjaraj Urs told South First.

He asserted that there is no evidence or records available to establish the existence of Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda during that time, Prof Urs, who is an expert in the history of Mysuru, told South First.

“Referring to them as Vokkaliga chieftains, the BJP claims that the two had killed Tipu Sultan. The BJP is distorting history and insulting and humiliating the works of historians in the state to appease the Vokkaliga community,” Prof Urs said.

“Tipu Sultan was killed in the fourth Anglo-Mysore war in 1798-1799 by the allied forces of Marathas and Nizams, who helped the British Army,” the historian explained.

Incidentally, the BJP has been hard-selling fictional characters like Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda for a long time.

Higher Education Minister Ashwath Narayan in a public meeting had asked people to ‘finish off’ Siddaramaiah, the way Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda had eliminated Tipu. The statement sparked massive outrage.

Also read: Karnataka government excludes Nehru, features Savarkar on I-Day ads

Amit Shah’s gaffe

“Union Home Minister Amit Shah who recently visited Karnataka asked his audience if they would want Rani Abakka or Tipu Sultan,” Prof Urs further said.

The Last Effort and Fall of Tipu Sultan

‘The Last Effort and Fall of Tipu Sultan’, a painting by Henry Singleton. (Wikimedia Commons)

“Mr. Amit Shah is not aware that Rani Abakka died in 1575 and Tipu was born in 1750. These two historical figures are from two different generations and different centuries. How could both be compared,” he wondered.

A play, Tipu Nija Kanasugalu (Tipu’s Real Dreams), further peddled the false narrative.

The director of the play, Kodagu-based Addanda Cariappa, portrayed Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda as two chieftains who play pivotal roles in killing Tipu Sultan.

Cariappa is also the director of Rangayana, a Mysuru-based theatre institute.

Referring to available facts and evidence, historians maintained that Tipu’s killing was plotted by Diwan Purnaiah, the first Diwan of Mysuru, and Mir Sadiq who joined hands with the Marathas and Nizams.

Diwan Purnaiah was a wartime military commander under Tipu and Sadiq was Tipu’s minister and confidant, who helped the British seize the fort and capture and kill the Sultan.