Former royals of the erstwhile princely states in Gujarat projected Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister-in-waiting at a felicitation ceremony at Ranjit Vilas Palace in Wankaner on Sunday. This marks a complete shift in their stance as the royals have traditionally been strong supporters of the Congress.
Breaking their almost 15-year-long political hibernation,as many as 18 former rulers and crown princes came together to support Modi when Wankaner crown prince Kesarisihji was formally inducted in the BJP.
His father Digvijaysinhji was Union Environment Minister in the Indira Gandhi government. Tushar Singh,an NCP legislator from Devgadh Baria was present with his mother Urvashi Devi,signaling the familys shift to BJP.
Most of the royals who shared dais with Modi for the first time were from Saurashtra. They included Bhavnagar royal Shivbhadrasinhji,Lakhtar royal Thakor Saheb Baldharasinhji Zala,Sayla royal Thakor Saheb Prithvisinhjii Zala,Rajkot crown prince Mandhatasinhji Jadeja,Darbar Saheb Karansinhji from Patdi and Darbar Saheb Mahipalsinhji from Jetpur. Maharoa Raghubirsinh of Sihori in Rajasthan was also present at the occasion.
All of us want to see you as the Prime Minister. Saints have also given their blessings to see you leading the nation. We give our best wishes for your prosperous political career development, said the 5 feet long felicitation letter presented to Modi on the occasion.
The letter had collection of quotes from former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to a small farmer on what qualities they appreciate in Modi.
In his address on behalf of the royals,Shivbhadrasinhji called two political leaders Kshatriya by their deeds.
He said: Kshatriya is the one who protects those in need and help others to grow. In my view two political leaders in the history of India can be said Kshatriya by their deeds – Sardar Vallbhbhai Patel and Narendra Modi.
Modi applauded royals for their immense contribution in nation building.
He said: In 1947,when asked to give up their kingdoms for nation-building,they did so by signing papers. But when a court asked the Prime Minister to step down from power,she instead imposed Emergency to hold on to the power.
The Kshatriyas were absorbed in Congress party by way of KHAM theory,which helped the Congress monopolise the votes of Kshatriya,Dalits,Adivasi and Muslims. The BJP has traditionally enjoyed the support of upper castes like Patels,who are considered the arch rivals of the Kshatriyas.
From former Chief Minister Madhavsinh Solanki to former finance minister and Rajkot royal Manoharsinhji Jadeja,the Kshatriya have hold key posts in Congress government.
Barring a couple of example of Kshatriya leaders in the BJP like Vaju Vala,I K Jadeja and Bhupendrasinh Chudasama,the community and especially the royals went into hibernation ever since the BJP government came to power in Gujarat in 1995.
The winds of change started blowing when Mandhatasinhji,son of Manoharsinh,joined the BJP ahead of the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.
On Sunday when Kesarisinhji joined the BJP,it was the second influential royal family from Saurashtra who ended years of association with the Congress.