The erstwhile Jaipur royals on Wednesday made an emotive appeal to people to stand by them against the Jaipur Development Authority’s (JDA) immoral and repressive act of sealing the Rajmahal Palace Hotel.
Padmini Devi, the Rajmata of the former royal family, will lead a rally comprising people of all communities on Thursday. The silent rally will march from Tripoliya Gate in the City Palace to Rajmahal Palace.
This comes amid speculation that BJP MLA Diya Kumari, Padmini Devi’s daughter, has sought the help of Union home minister Rajnath Singh, himself a Rajput, although the former denied it.
All this point to the bid of the royal family to portray itself as the victim of government authority with an effort to rally the support of not only the Rajputs but all communities to hit back.
In an appeal published in the local media, Padmini Devi asked people to stand by the family and pointed out that the JDA action was not only an insult to her family and the people of Jaipur but also an affront to the patriotism of her husband, late (Brigadier) Bhawani Singh, a Mahavir Chakra recipient, who had served the country and showed exemplary courage in the Indo-Pak War of 1971.
The action by the JDA commissioner in sealing the Rajmahal Palace Hotel was “immoral and repressive”, the appeal said, asking people to support her against the injustice.
Some Rajput and other community associations as well as the Congress have come out in support of the former royal family calling the JDA action vindictive and insulting. The Congress too has asked chief minister Vasundhara Raje to come clean on the hotel dispute.
The appeal has not gone down well with the BJP though. Its state president Ashok Parnami said, “I had assured Diya Kumari when she met me that no injustice would be done to her. The chief minister is back today.”
Kumari’s husband Narendra Singh said, “The appeal has been issued by Padmini Devi in her personal capacity. People are angered by the JDA action and have come out in our support. Why is the government harassing their own MLA when she has done no wrong?”
JDA officials and policemen led by JDA commissioner Shikhar Agarwal had on August 24 entered the premises of the 300-year-old hotel situated in the posh C-scheme area, sealed the receiver’s office, partially broken quarters inhabited by the former royal family’s staff and also the three main gates of the hotel.
A senior JDA official told HT that the move was not sudden. “Knowing well that court cases are pending, a month back the royal family had filed an application in the Jaipur Municipal Corporation for reconstitution of the land. They tried to bypass the JDA. In the first week of August, the corporation apprised us of the application.” The official said some new construction had also begun on the land. “It was after these developments that the JDA took action,” he said.
The move took people by surprise because Raje, who is from the Scindia family and married into the Dholpur royal family, shares cosy relationship with the former Jaipur royals. Incidentally, Diya Kumari was given the Assembly election ticket for Sawai Madhopur at Raje’s behest.
Some say that Raje was interested in a stake in the Rajmahal hotel which was briefly leased in 2014 to the Sujan Group of luxury hotels, run by Jaisal Singh, Raje’s relative, a claim denied by Kumari. They say the JDA’s act was meant to serve as a warning to the royal family which had gone back on its commitment.