‘Raja’ Virbhadra Singh, ‘Begum’ Noor Bano, ‘Rajkumari’ Ratna Singh and many more of their kind will not find a place in any Congress document or record.
More than six decades after Independence and over three decades after the government abolished privy purses and privileges, the Congress has decided to turn royalty into aam aadmi.
“The party has decided to strike off all feudal titles (against the name of Congressmen and women) from its records at all levels,” party leader Janardhan Dwivedi said.
He, however, admitted it was an “indirect suggestion” made to the leaders not to use such prefixes and suffixes, such as Rajkumar, Nizam, Nawab, Sadr-e-riyasaat or Mahant.
Dwivedi refused to speculate or give figures on how many leaders and workers would be affected by the party’s advice.
But instructions have reportedly been sent to all party units down the line not to include such references in documents.
Several Congress leaders are often referred to by their titles, especially by their followers.
They include, among others, Lok Sabha MPs “Maharani’’ Preneet Kaur (from Patiala royal family) and Chandresh Kumari (from Rajasthan’s Jodhpur and Himachal’s Kangra-Lambagraon), “Maharaj’’ Jyotiraditya Scindia (Gwalior family) and Jitendra Singh (Alwar) “Raja’’ Sanjay Singh (Amethi) and “Kanwar’’ R.P.N. Singh (Padrauna). Then there are Rajya Sabha MPs like Karan Singh of J&K and Congress leaders like Digvijay Singh (from Raghogarh).
So what made the Congress decide to delete feudal titles from its records?
Dwivedi denied it is a sudden decision. “It has been in implementation for some time… It is indirectly a suggestion to leaders not to use it themselves.’’
While other parties with royalty may also come under pressure on this count, the decision may stir up a hornet’s nest. “The 24 th Amendment and the 26 the Amendment, which abolished privy purses and privileges, did not abolish titles. These titles denote our heritage. How can our heritage be taken away?’’ said Bhanu Pratap Singh, maharaja of Narsinghgarh (in MP) and ex-Union minister.
Dismissing the Congress’s move as a “gimmick,’’ he said nearly 50 per cent of India’s territory consists of former princely states. “Besides, how can we stop people referring to us by our titles?’’ he asked.