GUWAHATI: Manipur’s titular king Maharaja Leishemba Sanajaoba felt he finally got power that will help him to serve his people.
“I have been the titular king of Manipur for 25 years but I had no power. Now that I have become an MP by God’s grace, I feel it will help me greatly to serve my people. I always wanted to do something for them,” Sanajaoba told The New Indian Express in an interview on Saturday.
On a day that saw a high voltage drama surrounding Rajya Sabha election to the state’s lone seat on Friday, Sanajaoba (48) of the BJP edged past T Mangi Babu of the Congress by four votes.
The Kingdom of Manipur or “Kangleipak Kingdom” was a princely state that was merged with the Indian Union in 1949. From 1949 to 1971, the royal family received a “privy purse” of Rs 3 lakh per annum. Subsequently, the system was abolished.
“All these 25 years that I have been the titular king, I couldn’t do any remarkable work for my people. So, when the BJP had approached me with a ticket for the Rajya Sabha election, I couldn’t reject the offer,” Sanajaoba said.
He said as it was a new field that he was in, it would be early for him to assert what exactly he was going to do for the people.
The law dropout had contested the election braving protests from civil society organisations which felt the king was stooping very low for an ordinary position. They wanted him to abdicate the throne. He on Saturday defended his decision.
“Kingship is customary and I inherited it. People were divided on the issue of my contesting the election. Some wanted me to represent Manipur in the Rajya Sabha and go there with the Maharaja title. They wanted that I retain kingship. Some were opposed to my candidature. I feel very proud of my history and forefathers. We had a long history. Ours was one of the oldest kingdoms of South East Asia. I won’t abdicate the throne,” the titular king said.
His 20-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter are students. The son studies in Delhi. King Bodhchandra Singh, the last Manipuri king, was his grandfather.
“We follow dual faith. We have our indigenous religion Sanamahism. It is a very old religion that was also practised by my forefathers. We also follow Hinduism. Most people in Manipur follow these two religions,” Sanajaoba said.
Asked how he would like to be addressed by the fellow MPs, he said, “It is up to them but I will be happy if I am addressed as Maharaja. Maharaja is my birthright”.