The current era is marked by some great stories which are brought to us by the means of cinema, TV, or OTT platforms. The over-sensitisation of information, especially the one in a historical context has greatly blurred the lines between fact and fiction. What started to make rounds following the portrayal of minor blends in history to serve a popular narrative has now led to the creation of a fictional character in an untrue story.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, which has been notorious for using the methods of pop culture to colour (or de-colour) the image of several Indian historical figures has again found itself in an embarrassing situation over the matter of gross historical inaccuracy. Days after a journal in the United States named the BJP as the most important foreign political party, the Karnataka wing of the party created two fictional characters and gave them the ‘credits’ of killing the former ruler of the erstwhile state of Mysuru Tipu Sultan.
Tipu Sultan has been a conflicted historical figure in the last few years in India. On different occasions he is made to stand against different historical figures, to try and lower his value in history. To propagate hatred against the ruler, several pieces of misinformation have been used by the party in power, however, it reached its peak when two fictional characters, which were created as recently as 2022, were made to look like those responsible for the death of Tipu.
In an attempt to woo the voters of one of the most important demographics of the state, the Vokkaligas, the BJP introduced Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda. But who are these Gowda brothers?
In 1997, celebrated writer Girish Karnad wrote a play titled ‘Tipu Sultan Kanda Kanasu’ (The Dream of Tipu Sultan). The writer based the play on the Farsi manuscript which was written by Tipu Sultan himself. It documents the dreams of the ruler from 1785 to 1799.
As a ‘response’ to the play written by Karnad, Addanda Cariappa, former actor, singer, a member of the Kendra Sahitya Academy, and the former Director of the cultural institute of Rangayana, wrote another play in 2022 by the name ‘Tippu Nija Kanasugalu’ (The Real Dreams of Tipu). It was this play that introduced the two fictional characters of the Gowda brothers.
The play was promoted in a way to tell people about the ‘true character’ of the former Mysuru king. After staging the play, a book regarding the same matter was also published. It is the book that got the entire controversy started.
After the book got published, a writ petition was filed in a Karnataka court by BS Rafiullah, the former Chairman of the District Wakf Board Committee, seeking a stay on the play and the book. The reason given by Rafiulla for the stay was that it was hurting the Muslim sentiments and “it contains wrong information without any support or justification from history”. The court put a stay order on the book but allowed the play to continue.
BJP and the Fictional story
The controversy regarding these two characters resurfaced ahead of Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the poll-bound state of Karnataka. Ahead of his visit, four arches were erected on the route, and one of them was that of these two characters.
The fact that the banner of two imaginary characters was put up is not even the most absurd part of the story. The volunteers used pictures of the Maruthu brothers on the banner. These two brothers were the rulers of the Sivaganga kingdom fought against the British and were publicly hanged to death in 1801.
The attempt to spread extremely wrong and incorrect propaganda by the BJP crosses the line when a minister and a film producer from the state, Munirahna announced that he will be making a film on these two Vokkaliga chieftains. He also claimed that the movie will be scripted by the Higher Education Minister Dr. CN Ashwath Narayan. However, the film was soon halted after the issue came to light. Nirmala Swami Adichunchanagri Mahasamsthana Mutt also called out the false propaganda by the BJP, to increase polarisation before the elections.
As of now the film stands halted, and the BJP’s attempt to spread disinformation, seemingly failed.