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Royal challenge on fief turfs

It is battle royale, literally. More than 12 rajas, ranis, raj kumars and raj kumaris of the erstwhile royal families are contesting the assembly election. Umesh Raghuvanshi reports.

india Updated: Feb 11, 2012 01:47 IST
Umesh Raghuvanshi

It is battle royale, literally. More than 12 rajas, ranis, raj kumars and raj kumaris of the erstwhile royal families are contesting the assembly election.

"It is the love of the people, not the titles, that counts," says Maharaja Ranjit Singh Judeo of Samthar, who is contesting the Samthar seat of Bundelkhand on a Congress ticket. A MLA and former minister, Judeo says royal antecedents can help score an initial victory but, after that, the work done for the people matters more. "I won my first election in 1974 by a big margin. It decreased the next time."

Though Judeo is the only member of his family in politics, there are instances where more than one member of a royal house is in the poll ring. Take the case of Maharaja Mahendra Aridaman Singh of Bhadavar. While he is the Samajwadi Party nominee from Bah in Agra, his wife, Maharani Pakshalikam Singh, is the candidate from Khairagarh. “I entered politics in 1988 and have been a minister and a five-term MLA. But this is the first election for my wife. She had campaigned for me earlier. She has been active in social work too. So, she is not new to politics and the people,” says Singh.

The contest at Siswa in Maharajganj is a family affair with a touch of revenge. Five-term MLA and former minister Shivendra Singh of the Samjwadi Party is up against his cousin Ankit Singh, a candidate of Amar Singh’s Lok Manch. “I decided to enter politics after the murder of my father, Devendra Singh. The name of Shivendra Singh’s elder brother figured in the case,” says Ankit.

Not all royal contestants go on to win. Pratapgarh’s Raja Anil Pratap Singh, the Congress candidate from Vishnathganj, says, “I could not win in 1993 due to an SP-BSP wave and lost in 2007 due to the BSP wave. This time, I am better placed because the public mood favours change.”

A traditional Congress bastion, Amethi had gone to the BJP in 1998, when Raja Sanjay Singh defeated the Congress’s Satish Sharma. Singh is now a Congress MP from Sultanpur. His wife and outgoing Congress MLA, Rani Amita Singh, is contesting the Amethi seat again. In Tiloi, Raja Mayankeshwar Sharan Singh is seeking re-election on an SP ticket. A three-term MLA, Singh won his first assembly election in 1993 as a BJP candidate but lost in 1996.

Independent MLA Raghuraj Pratap Singh too is from a royal family. He is seeking re-election from Kunda in Pratapgarh.

Other royal houses in the fray include Sareni, Khajurgaon, Arkha, Mankapur, Dariyabad and Madhogarh.