Mysore King Tipu Sultan is at the center of a controversy in Mumbai with the BJP claiming that Congress leader and Mumbai Suburbs Minister Aslam Shaikh is considering naming a playground in the Muslim-dominated locality of Malwani after the 17th century ruler.
What led to the BJP protest in Malwani?
The current controversy centers on a playground located in the Muslim-majority area of Malwani in the western suburbs of Malad. The land is popularly known as Tipu Sultan Ground by locals, and in December last year Shaikh, who represents Malwani constituency, decided to renovate and add facilities to the land using the fund from regional development granted to deputies. Work on the project had been completed and Shaikh had decided to hold a reception on Wednesday indicating that the complex was ready for use. The BJP, however, said the program was aimed at renaming the complex after Tipu Sultan and a large number of BJP and right-wing workers showed up in Malwani to oppose the alleged decision.
“We will not allow the land to be named after a man responsible for the deaths of large numbers of Hindus,” said opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis.
Large numbers of BJP, VHP and Bajrang Dal workers had gathered outside the facility to protest. The large rally was dispersed by Mumbai police and a number of protesters were arrested.
What is the MVA’s position on the matter?
The MVA is ambiguous on the matter, with neither Shaikh nor the Shiv Sena openly stating that they are in favor of naming the ground after Tipu Sultan.
Shiv Sena leader and Maharashtra Cabinet Minister Aditya Thackeray said the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation had not approved any proposal to name the park after Tipu Sultan.
Shaikh said the ground had been known as Tipu Sultan Ground for a number of years and there was no official decision to rename the ground.
“The ground has been called Tipu Sultan Ground for a great number of years. I only came to inaugurate the new facilities whose works had been commissioned in the past and are now complete,” Shaikh said, saying the BJP was trying to communalise the issue.
“It is interesting to note that a number of BJP entrepreneurs in the past have written letters endorsing the naming of places after Tipu Sultan. How has he suddenly become anathema to the BJP today. Will the BJP ask its leader who approved the designation of the places after Tipu Sultan to step down,” Shaikh said.
Shaikh also said he did not know how the park had been associated with Tipu Sultan.
“The BMC has a policy that it does not change the names of places that are popularly named by local residents after noted Indian personalities,” Shaikh said when asked if the BMC, which is responsible for the naming and maintenance of the parks, had approved the name of the land.
The Shiv Sena, meanwhile, distanced itself from the decision saying that Brihanmumbai Municipality has not approved any proposal to name the garden after Tipu Sultan.
“No name change has taken place. The BMC has authority over these matters and no naming proposal has been submitted to the BMC,” said Aaditya Thackeray.
Is this the first time that Tipu Sultan has acted as a catalyst for a political dispute in Mumbai?
In January last year, Corporal of Govandi’s Samajwadi Party Rukhsana Siddiqui wrote a letter to the market and garden committee suggesting that a newly developed garden spanning two acres be named after Tipu Tipu Sultan because it was a “freedom fighter” and had fought the British. East India Company.
This decision, however, drew criticism from the right-wing Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) organization, and later the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which claimed that Sultan was an anti-Hindu leader and that giving his name to a garden would harm the religious feelings of the community.
The Shiv Sena that governs the BMC has yet to make a decision on the name change.
Are there any other places in Mumbai named after Tipu Sultan?
There is a road in Andheri named after Tipu Sultan. There is another road in Govandi which is named after King Mysore. The streets were named when the Shiv Sena-BJP coalition ruled the BMC.
Why does Tipu Sultan find resonance in Mumbai?
Since 2015 after the emergence of political parties like AIMIM in Maharashtra, historical figures like Tipu Sultan have been used by Muslim youth as a symbol of political affirmation. A large number of images praising Tipu Sultan, the 17th century Muslim ruler of Mysore, have started appearing in parts of Maharashtra, especially Marathwada and locals say these posters are a way for the youth to show the contribution and history of Muslims in India. .
The BJP has also said in recent months that Hindus are troubled in Malwani which has a large Muslim population and is also where the ground is. BJP leaders, including town leader Mangal Prabhat Lodha, have focused on Malwani, alleging that Hindus are being forced out of the locality and symbolism related to Tipu Sultan is being used to instil fear in the community. MVA leaders, meanwhile, claimed that the BJP was communitarianizing the issue with a view to polarizing the electorate ahead of the BMC elections.
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