Indian president Ramnath Kovind was dragged into a roiling political dispute in Karnataka on Wednesday as he praised 18th century ruler Tipu Sultan while addressing a joint session to mark the 60th anniversary of the Vidhana Soudha, India's largest legislature building.
At a time the BJP has been protesting against the glorification of a figure it believes was an "anti-Hindu tyrant", the President has described him as a hero of freedom.
"Tipu Sultan died a historic death fighting the British," the President said in the assembly to loud desk-thumping by members of the ruling Congress and silence from the opposition.
"He was also a pioneer in the development and use of Mysore rockets in warfare. This technology was later adopted by the Europeans," said Kovind, who took over as President in July with the support of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.
The BJP has alleged that President Kovind's speech was scripted by the Congress, which started annual Tipu Sultan birth anniversary celebrations in the state in 2015.
"They have misused the President office," BJP legislator Arvind Limbavali told NDTV.
"They have invited him and they have prepared the speech also.This is an election year. They want to make it big event and they have taken the opportunity of the President's visit also and they have made the mention of Tipu Sultan in his speech, through the President," he charged.
Tipu Sultan, a polarising figure in history, has been variously described by leaders of the BJP as a "anti-Hindu", "anti-Karnataka" and "mass murderer". But he is also seen by many as the first freedom fighter to take on the British and a sterling administrator.
Limbavali said: "I am not questioning his freedom fight...but I am questioning his mentality about the Hindus."
Two years ago, when the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government decided to celebrate Tipu Sultan's birth anniversary, there were violent protests in which two people died. The BJP has accused the government of trying to draw political mileage from the Tipu Sultan row.
The Congress scoffed at the BJP's criticism, saying Tipu Sultan deserves to be counted among the great rulers of the country.
Dinesh Gundu Rao of the Congress said: "(The President) mentioned Basaveshwara, he mentioned great rulers like Krishna Devaraiah, Rani Kittur Rani Chennamma. In that context he mentioned Tipu Sultan. It puts it into the right perspective of what is Tipu Sultan. He is not just a historic figure but a legendary figure."
The Congress leader went on: "Kings in those days would have had different situations where they had to take different steps...things we may not today consider to be right, but his contribution to the state and his heroic fight against the British, his contribution in sericulture, in science..."