They may have had their princely privileges snatched away and can no longer call their kingdom their own, but when it comes to politics, erstwhile Indian royals remain a force to reckon with, and nowhere is the support that they still command more evident than during elections in the country.
Take for instance Odisha. Sitting Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MP Kalikesh Singhdeo from Bolangir is among 14 members of the erstwhile Odisha royal family who are in the fray for the upcoming Lok Sabha and state Assembly elections.
Kalikesh will be facing BJP rival and sister-in-law Sangeeta Kumari Singh Deo, wife of Kanak Vardhan Singh Deo, the state BJP president and “maharaja” of Bolangir.
Incidentally, Kalikesh’s father and Rajya Sabha member A U Singh Deo is in the fray for the Assembly elections.
The BJD has also fielded Hemendra Singh from Kandhamal and Arka Keshari Deo from Kalahandi to reap a rich electoral harvest.
The scion of Nayagarh royal family, Hemendra is the richest candidate from the tribal dominated constituency with assets worth over `48.72 crore. Kalikesh in 2009 had declared assets worth over `4 crore.
Arka Keshri Deo is a member of the Kalahandi royal clan. He will face sitting Congress MP Bhakt Charan Das for the Lok Sabha seat spread across 7 Assembly constituencies. Interestingly, his uncle, Raja Udit Pratap Deo and his wife Padma Manjari Devi joined rival BJP last week.
Saddled with huge expectation to deliver populist promises made in its manifesto, the Congress has fielded three royal scions in Rajasthan. Chandresh Kumari Katoch, Union Minister for Culture and daughter of Maharaja Hanwant Singh is pitted against BJP’s Rajput candidate Gajendra Singh Shekhawat in Jodhpur, a Rajput dominant constituency which covers 10 Assembly constituencies. Katoch has declared wealth over Rs 9 crore as immovable assets and Rs 61 lakh in cash and jewellery etc.
The south-western region of the state had witnessed a close contest in 2009, throwing up 10 Congress MPs. This time, the anti incumbency factor looms.
Dushyant Singh, the sitting BJP MP and son of Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje is contesting from Jhalawar-Baran constituency spread across eight Assembly constituencies and is likely to benefit from the wave of change that is sweeping the nation. Dushyant had declared over Rs 6 crore in assets in 2009. Minister of State, Defence, Bhanwar Jitendra Singh, the scion of the royal family of Alwar, is the Congress candidate from Alwar seat. A sitting MP, Jitendra Singh in the last election had won by over 2 lakh votes over his nearest BJP rival. Although, he is a credible face in the region, his challenge lies in hard selling his party’s welfare politics.
The Congress has also fielded sitting MP from Kota Ijyaraj Singh, scion of Kota princely state who won by nearly 90,000 votes in 2009.
In Madhya Pradesh, the Congress has fielded three candidates with rich royal credentials. Jyotiraditya Scindia, the sitting MP from Guna, Rajesh Nandini Singh from Shahdol and Ajay Singh from Satna are contestants in the 2014 battle.
In Mandi Lok Sabha constituency of Himachal Pradesh, the Congress sits comfortable due to the clout of Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, whose wife Pratibha Singh, sitting MP is pitted against BJP candidate Ram Swaroop Sharma.
In Punjab, Captain Amarinder Singh, the former chief minister and son of former Maharaja of Patiala Yadavindra Singh, is battling against BJP candidate Arun Jaitley.
They say that whichever party wins Uttar Pradesh, rules Delhi and the Congress party is already battling BJP’s poll mascot Narendra Modi’s popularity in the Hindi heartland. The party has fielded four candidates with royal lineage. Amita Singh, wife of Congress Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament Sanjay Singh is contesting from Sultanpur, Ratna Singh of the Oudh royal family contesting from Pratapgarh, R P N Singh from Kushinagar and Kazim Ali Khan, son of Begum Noor Bano, is contesting from Rampur.