Chitradurga (Karnataka), May 6: Accusing the Indian National Congress (INC) of distorting history as part of a conspiracy to divide society, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday flayed the Siddaramaiah government in the southern state of Karnataka for celebrating the "jayantis of Sultans" for the sake of "vote bank politics".
Modi was apparently referring to the Siddaramaiah government's controversial decision to celebrate "Tipu Jayanti" every year on November 10 to commemorate the memory of Tipu Sultan, the legendary 18th century ruler of Mysore
Addressing an election rally here, the prime minister said, "Look at the Congress character....whose jayanti needs to celebrated with respect, from whom we have to draw inspiration for generations to generations, they can't think about celebrating their jayantis".
"Veera Madakari and Onake Obavva are forgotten, but for the sake of vote bank politics they are into celebrating jayantis of Sultans," he said
A Dalit woman, Onake Obavva was the legendary wife of a soldier in the army of Madakari Nayaka, the last ruler of Chitrdurga.
She is said to have fought single handedly and killed with a pestle several invading soldiers of the army of Hyder Ali, father of Tipu Sultan, in 1779. She was killed by Hyder Ali's soldiers in her valiant effort to protect the fort where her husband was the guard of a watch tower
Celebration of "Tipu Jayanti" is strongly opposed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
The celebration has also triggered a sharp division in society with some hailing Tipu Sultan as a hero who died fighting the British, while others calling him a "fanatic" ruler
"By celebrating this jayanti, Congress has insulted people of Karnataka and Chitradurga. They have played with sentiments and feelings of people of Chitradurga, Modi said
"Congress by celebrating jayanti of those who gave poison to Nayakas of Chitradurga by betrayal and those who killed the courageous lady Onake Obavva have insulted this land, you and the history," he said, as he sought to connect with local historical sentiments
The way in which Congress had betrayed the legacy and courage of the sons and daughters of this land could not be forgiven, the prime minister said.
Modi also accused the Congress of sidelining several national stalwarts for the sake of one family
He also hit out at the Congress for "spreading lies and trying to mislead Dalits