Seeing beyond Shivaji: Activists push for Pulikeshi II

Seeing beyond Shivaji: Activists push for Pulikeshi II

Actor Dhananjaya said he is not interested in statues but people should read about Pulikeshi II

Credit: Twitter/@Sam75467932

The omnipresence of Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji in every narrative of right-wing politics across Karnataka has set off a new debate in the cultural realms of the state, with hundreds of activists, politicians, history enthusiasts and Sandalwood actors batting for Chalukya king Pulikeshi II (Pulakeshin II).

The clamour for the native identity reached a crescendo on Sunday with #ImmadiPulikeshi trending on social media.

Shivanand Gundanavar, a cyber security specialist and a history enthusiast who actively publicised the online campaign, said there is no need for Kannadigas to glorify outside rulers as icons when they have own heroes in large numbers. “It is indeed a tragedy that across Karnataka we have more statues of outsiders than our regional icons, who built empires much ahead of the established rulers, dating back to the early Indian era,” he said.

Pointing towards the achievement of Pulikeshi II, whose capital was Badami (Vatapi) in Bagalkot district, Shivanand said the government must install his statue in Badami.

“Pulikeshi II never represented any caste, he portrayed himself as Kannadiga. In fact, his army was named Karnata Bala. He ensured absolute democracy in his kingdom. He was an able administrator and a true secular who patronised other religions under his rule. His activities and story have been painted in the caves of Ajanta in Maharashtra. When we demand a statue, it is only an identity,” he added.

Senior JDS leader Y S V Datta tweeted, “It is ironic that the Kannada and Culture department, which does not remember our native rulers like Sri Krishnadevaraya, Pulikeshi II, celebrates the birth anniversary of a Maharashtra ruler who hardly did anything to Kannada. Invading Kannada states initially, he had to seek asylum in the court of our one of the brave queens.”

Actor Dhananjaya said he is not interested in statues but people should read about Pulikeshi II. “He is one of the greatest rulers of Karnataka. But we celebrate others and forget about our own people. Celebrating Kannada heritage, we should celebrate Pulakeshi II and his achievements,” he said.

“The campaign for Pulikeshi is the reaction by Kannada activists to the popular glorification of Shivaji in every step of politics by BJP leaders. It has even gone to the extent of printing his image on Bhagwa flags besides celebrating every incident of his life. At the same time, Kannada activists see indifference to Kannada kings of the past by the same politicians. In fact, Pulikeshi ruled over all of present-day Maharashtra and hence he has now emerged as an icon against the perceived indifference,” said filmmaker and critic S Shyam Prasad.