The descendants of Kashi Naresh, the Maharajah of Kashi (modern day Varanasi), who have been living in Gwalior for the past 240 years, are rooting for BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
The members of the 25-plus-strong family of Raja Chet Singh, erstwhile Kashi Naresh, reside near the Gwalior fort and the way to their home can be easily recognised from a signboard “Kashi Naresh ki Gali”. Prem Singh, 65, who represents the 8th generation of the Kashi Naresh family said it was the “weakness” of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that prompted the family to support Modi, who was “strong” in his ways.
“Manmohan Singh kept silent all this time while he was the Prime Minister and Congress president Sonia Gandhi was busy getting medical treatment in foreign countries. During Singh’s period the country slipped into a deep hole and the middle class suffered,” Prem, a farmer, said.
Prem added that the descendants of Kashi Naresh lived without any grandeur and most of the family members were employed in banks and Army and as medical representative and software engineers.
Chet Singh assumed the crown of Kashi after his father Balwant Singh died in 1770. According to historians, the first governor general of British India Warren Hastings sought troops from Chet Singh to take on Hyder Ali, the ruler of the Mysore princely state in 1781. He also imposed heavy taxes on Chet Singh after he refused to comply with his order and subsequently attacked him. Following his defeat in 1781, Chet Singh fled to Buxar, Rewa and was finally given shelter by the Scindia dynasty that was ruling Gwalior at that time.
According to journalist Rakesh Pathak, Chet Singh and his entourage of 8,000 soldiers were provided with land at the north-east side of the Gwalior fort. “He was also given a jagir of `5 lakh and the zamindari of 151 villages by Baji Rao Peshwa, the Maratha king,” he said. Chet Singh died in Gwalior on 29 March 1810 in obscurity, leaving behind three sons.
After Chet Singh left Varanasi, the British crowned Mahip Narayan Singh, a local zamindar as the new king of Varanasi. After his crowning, Mahip assumed the title of “Kashi Naresh”.