Rajas & Maharajas in Parliament
Many of us are just wondering whether Rajas and Maharajas come to Parliament as Members. Yes they do . Going through the pages of history a good number of people belonging to royal families joined Parliament as its Member either in the Upper House ( Rajya Sabha ) or Lower House (Lok Sabha). They even became Ministers or even Prime Ministers. For instance late Shri Viswanath Pratap Singh former Prime Minister of the country was the Raja of Manda (UP) and late Madhav Rao Scindia the then titular Maharaja of Gwalior was a Union Minister. Royalties contest elections on the tickets of various political parties or as independent candidates. Many of them win and enter Parliament.
Some prominent royal families are still active in politics. Jyotiraditya Scindia son of Maharaja Madhav Rao Scindia of Gwalior is now elected as a Member of Rajya Sabha. At the same time Raja Digvijaya Singh of Raghogarh is also elected for the Upper House. They are going to be the colleagues of our Maharaja Leishemba Sanajaoba in the Upper House (Rajya Sabha) of Parliament.
Before them there were many royalties who came to Parliament. The Maharaja of Mysore was a Member of Lok Sabha more than 3 times and also Member of Rajya Sabha twice, if counting is correct. We are talking about late Mysore Maharaja Srikanta Wodeyar. Mysore Royalty is still one the richest in the country. Gwalior and Patiala monarchs are also equally affluent. Though we have many Rajas and Maharajas they are not as powerful and wealthy as the royalties mentioned above.
The Manipur Maharaja or the Tripura Royals do not have much wealth and property. But they still command respect and honour. People still pay deference to the royalties not because of their power or wealth but because of the historical, customary and cultural practices of the society. We know that in terms of money and political power they are nowhere near the Gwalior or Patiala Royals or other prominent royal families. But they are still regal and revered because of the hereditary status of an age-old monarchical system based on primogeniture and blood line.
Seeking some political relevance in the present political set-up does not compromise the traditional role of Rajas and Maharajas. We have seen the changing political role of royalties all over the world. The most long lasting monarchical power exists in Britain, though it is lingering and waning. The Japanese or Spanish or Belgian royalties also still have some political relevance.But how long ? If the royal families want to remain politically powerful they must refine their role in the society according to the existing political system. Otherwise their position will simply remain titular or decorational.
If the royal families really want to gain political power in the existing system they ought to be part of active politics. Otherwise they will simply remain performing some customary and traditional formalities and nothing else. We have seen the oldest Chinese or Egyptian Monarchies; their emperors or kings are now in oblivion. A few monarchs or kings are still visible but not prominently. They exist only in name sake. British Monarchy is perhaps the only exception in terms of power and position but they are also not as powerful as they used to be some 100 years ago, when the sun never set in the British Empire.
Captain Amarinder Singh the titular king of Patiala who is the present Chief Minister of Punjab was also a Member of Parliament. He belongs to the royal family of Patiala and some people still call him the Maharaja of Patiala. He was elected twice for Lok Sabha in 1980 and again in 2014.
Another very prominent politician from a distinguished royal family is Dr Karan Singh, son of Maharaja Hari Singh of Jammu and Kashmir. He is always either in Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha. He was also a Minister in the Union Government.
When the privy purse was abolished in 1971 by the 26th Constitution amendment most of the Rajas and Maharajas were impacted. They were getting a good amount of money in the form of privy purse . After 1971 they became poorer. The rich royalties were not much affected but the less wealthy Rajas and Maharajas became financially much weakened. Manipur Maharaja was among those who were badly affected because that was the main source of income. Some affluent Rajas and Maharajas surrendered their privy purses even before it was legally done away with.
Rajas or Maharajas or Nawabs are hereditary. Such a position is bestowed upon a person because of the time and place of his or her birth. This position is neither changed nor compromised due to some public opinion. Renouncement is hardly done on volition. The Queen of England is yet to abdicate despite humongous moral pressure.
If the royals desire to redesign their political role and status let them try. If they think the new role will give them ample opportunities to serve the people let them go ahead. The bonafide intention of the blue-births may be tried and tested.