- Rajasthan government, former royals in row over Rajmahal Palace
- Former royals have protested strongly against sealing of palace gate
- Rajmata Padmini Devi led the protest on streets today
Rajmata Padmini Devi and members of her family, wearing marigold garlands, waved at the crowds as the procession moved slowly from the City Palace towards the Rajmahal Palace 6 km away. The first public show of protest by the former royals has a political twist; Padmini Devi's daughter Diya Kumari is a lawmaker of Rajasthan's ruling BJP and close to Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.
"I wish I did not have to do what I am today. I am grateful to the people who have always been connected to us," the 73-year-old Rajmata told NDTV.
Last week, the state government sealed the main entrance of the Rajmahal Palace while taking over parts of the sprawling property, ignoring the protests of the former royal family, which asserted its right of way.
The chief minister happened to be away when officials came last Thursday with bulldozers and policemen. Diya Kumari pleaded with them, armed with a map cleared by a court, but officials firmly locked the gate.
"How much do you want to take away from us? They did not think about our honour...We are very sad, we feel humiliated," Padmini Devi said passionately at a meeting this week. The Rajmata also put out a newspaper message on Wednesday, banking on the mass appeal that the Jaipur royals still enjoy.
The state government claims it is only taking over the parts of the property that it legally acquired in 1993. The main gate, it insists, is part of it.
The family says the Rajmahal palace, once a British residency, was handed over to them under the covenant signed with princely states in 1949. They moved court against the government acquisition in 2002.
The hotel says its operations are unaffected; guests are using another gate.