A fresh row erupted in Karnataka today after a minister said he would discuss with the chief minister renaming of the 'Haj Bhavan' here after Tipu Sultan, an 18th century ruler of the Mysore kingdom.
Minority Welfare and Wakf Minister B Z Zameer Ahmad Khan's statement drew a sharp attack from the BJP which said it would launch a statewide protest against the proposal.
Khan said that during a recent review meeting of the Haj committee, officials told him there were several requests to change the name of the Haj Bhavan which accommodates Haj pilgrims.
"I said I will discuss (it) with chief minister and see...," he told reporters here.
The BJP opposed the proposal to rename the Haj Bhavan, saying it was a building for the entire Muslim community and not just for Tipu's followers.
The saffron party, which opposed celebration of Tipu Jayanthi by the previous Congress dispensation, also claimed that the B S Yeddyurappa-led BJP government had given funds for the construction of a new building for the bhavan.
Khan said when the new building was inaugurated by then chief minister Siddaramaiah, there was a demand by 'Ulama Ikram' (religious leaders) and others to name it as 'Hazrat Tipu Sultan Haj Ghar'.
Describing the Haj Bhavan as an independent body, he said there need not be any opposition for naming it after the ruler.
He said there could have been some opposition if airports, railway stations, parks or roads were being renamed, he added.
"Tipu Jayanti issue is different, this is different... Will there be any meaning, if they oppose renaming of the independent body? They (BJP) will understand, they are also clever people...," he said replying to a question.
The state government celebrates the birth anniversary of the Mysore ruler on November 10 as 'Tipu Jayanti'.
This was opposed strongly by the BJP which sees Tipu Sultan as a "religious bigot" and a "brutal killer".
Reacting to the minister's remarks on Haj Bhavan, BJP MP Shobha Karnadlaje said at no cost should it be named after Tipu and if it was done her party would stage "a strong protest" across the state.
Claiming that the people had opposed Tipu Jayanti celebrations, she said, "If again Tipu (issue) is brought to the fore, the Congress that came in second (in polls) because of Siddaramaiah will now be destroyed in Karnataka because of Zameer (Khan)."
Another senior BJP leader and former deputy chief minister R Ashoka said Haj Bhavan was among the development projects of the Yeddyurappa government and now Congress was trying to hijack it by naming it after Tipu.
He noted that the Haj Bhavan was for the entire Muslim community and not only for Tipu's followers. He said it was wrong and the BJP was against the move.
"Tipu is a controversial figure, he was not a freedom fighter, and he had killed and converted lakhs of Hindus...," Ashoka alleged.