Controversy over unveiling of freedom fighter Tipu Sultan’s portrait in Delhi assembly by Arvind Kejriwal

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Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal unveiled portraits of 70 freedom fighters inside the Delhi Assembly including that of the 18th century brave Tipu Sultan, who was martyred while fighting the British in Mysore.

Tipu Sultan

The other freedom fighters whose portraits were unveiled by the Delhi Chief Minister were of Subhas Chandra Bose,Bhagat Singh, Birsa Munda and Ashfaqulla Khan. According to officials, each freedom fighter represented one assembly constituency of Delhi.

The move angered the BJP, which has been running a concerted campaign against Tipu, understandably because of the latter’s faith as a Muslim. “I asked them (AAP), why include someone who is this controversial? Why not include people who are from Delhi? Why put someone’s portrait in the Delhi Assembly, who has not contributed in any way to Delhi or its history?” BJP-Akali Dal MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa was quoted by Indian Express.

Taking a dig at the BJP, AAP MLA Saurabh Bharadwaj said that the government had asked the saffron party, which has 3 MLAs inside the assembly, to come up with a name from their party but it failed to provide any.

“We asked the BJP and their MLAs to suggest names from either their party or the RSS who had worked for the freedom struggle. But they couldn’t come up with any,” Bharadwaj told Indian Express. Bharadwaj was perhaps referring to the history of those, adored by the RSS and the BJP as their heroes, writing mercy pleas to British rulers in order to escape persecution. One of their heroes, Nathuram Godse, had killed India’s father of the nation.

Elsewhere, the Delhi Assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goel sought to remind the BJP that the brave 18th century martyr’s photo was there even inside the pages of the Indian constitution.

“I want to tell them that the Constitution of India also carries a picture of Tipu Sultan on page 144. So, either the people who fought the British to free the country and wrote this Constitution were ‘gaddaar’ (traitors) or they (BJP) are the ones,” he was quoted by the NDTV.

The work on these portraits had reportedly begun six months ago. The Congress government of Karnataka, the birth place of Tipu, had decided to celebrate the martyred freedom fighter’s birth anniversary in 2015, leading to violent protests by the BJP, which is accused by many historians of attempting to distort history to suit its anti-minority political agenda.

President Ram Nath Kovind last year had lauded the contribution of Tipu to the freedom struggle adding that the king had died fighting the British. 

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