R. Krishna Kumar
Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar is not contesting the elections
MYSORE: The sheen of the royalty will be missing in the elections to the Mysore Lok Sabha seat this time as the former MP and the scion of the royal family Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar is not in the fray.
Son of the last Maharaja of Mysore, the late Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar, the presence of Mr. Srikantadatta Wadiyar in the electoral battle used to queer the pitch for the opponents who had to contend with the undercurrent of loyalty to the royal family, especially in rural Mysore, apart from the Narasimharaja Assembly segment in Mysore city where he was an acceptable candidate for the minorities.
Given his status as a member of the royal family, his declared assets — of more than Rs.1,500 crore in the 2004 elections — was among the highest in the country.
The royal aura surrounding Mr. Wadiyar’s campaigning in the past — complete with his entourage, comprising party workers as also a few trusted confidants, — would conjure up colourful imageries in an otherwise bland campaign in the dusty hinterland of H.D. Kote and forest areas as also in Mysore urban where the spirit of royalty would conflict with the concept of democracy among the urban educated voters. But his writ ran deep among the rural voters who swore allegiance to “mahaswami or “mahaprabhu”.
The march of the royal cavalcade from the palace to the rural hinterland used to have all the trappings of regal procession complete with traditional musicians and elephants giving him a send-off.
Though there were rumours that Mr. Wadiyar was keen to contest from Bangalore, his name never figured among the list of probable candidates.
His close aides maintained that Mr. Wadiyar, now camping in the Bangalore Palace, would announce his next course of action soon. “He is his holding cards close to his chest and may spell out his plan in due course,” said a close aide in the Mysore Palace.
Of late, there were reports pertaining to his health, but sources in the family rubbished it saying routine medical check-ups and visits to an ophthalmologist was blown out of proportion.
Elected to Parliament four times, Mr. Wadiyar entered the political arena as a Congress candidate in the 1984 elections held after the assassination of Indira Gandhi and polled 54.71 per cent of the total votes cast.
He was re-elected in 1989, but joined the BJP and lost in 1991. He returned to the Congress and was re-elected in the 1996 and 1999 elections, but lost again in 2004, after which he maintained a low political profile. Though Mr. Wadiyar had evinced interest in entering State politics after the 2004 debacle, it did not materialise, and subsequently he spent more time pursuing his business interests apart from taking a plunge into cricket administration and becoming president of the Karnataka State Cricket Association.
The 2008 Assembly elections gave him an opportunity to take a plunge into politics again, but he stayed aloof and party workers also do not seem eager to rope him back to active politics.
The entry into Congress of former Deputy Chief Minister Siddaramaiah — with whom Mr. Wadiyar enjoyed an uneasy relationship — coincided with the fading away of Mr. Wadiyar from politics.
There was also a general criticism against Mr. Wadiyar not being easily approachable within the Congress itself, and he did little to play it down.