Princess Diya Kumari has been making it to the news quite regularly this year. Diya, who entered politics in 2013 and won her first assembly seat as a BJP candidate in 2013 from Sawai Madhopur, is in the election fray once again. Sources claim that local Rajput bodies did not want the BJP to field Diya Kumari from Rajsamand with some media reports even suggesting that both the Mewar royal family and former chief minister Vasundhara Raje too were not happy about Diya Kumari being fielded. Diya Kumari who hails from the first royal family of Jaipur is popular and well respected by the Rajput society in and around Jaipur.
Earlier in January, Diya Kumari made news when her 21-year-old marriage came to an end in the family court of Gandhi Nagar at Jaipur. Since then the couple has firmly refused to comment, only saying that it was an extremely personal matter for them and hence they did not wish to comment other than stating that they had jointly and mutually decided to part ways. In Jaipur, those close to the royal family say the decision was taken to avoid any property issues over the royal family’s huge assets. She is the only daughter of late Sawai Bhawani Singh, the last Maharaja of Jaipur and Padmini Devi. For some years now, Diya Kumari and Narendra Singh have been estranged.
The elegant princess is now on a punishing campaign trail as she braves heat and dust to woo the masses stamp of approval as their leader, raising the question as to how relevant people from royal families are in politics today.
Diya replies, “Of course they have relevance. We have so many political leaders who belong to erstwhile royal families and have contributed significantly in India’s growth story. Myself, I have led a very ordinary life. My father was in the army and I have lived in army cantonments, just like any other army officer’s children. My parents raised me to be a humble person and even though part of my childhood was spent growing up in the City Palace in Jaipur, I grew up with friends from all walks of life. Furthermore, in the past 5 years as an MLA in Sawai Madhopur, I have worked tirelessly also at the village and grassroots level and I believe that I have been truly relevant for the people and their expectations, and have helped to bring about a great amount of development and positive change for my constituency.”
Since Diya is now contesting from Rajsamand, it may be an uphill task for Jaipur royal to pull off a victory. The Princess is quick to retort, “Uphill task? Certainly not. I am simply overwhelmed by the huge support I am receiving from the people of Rajsamand constituency. I am a daughter of Rajasthan and can stand from anywhere in the state. The unending warmth and love being shown to me by the people of Rajsamand is truly amazing, touching and absolutely humbling.”
During the campaigning, the media covering the elections was quick to flash a somewhat contradictory visual, Jaipur’s millionaire princess was seen making rotis and bonding with the local women in their kitchens which seemed like a political stunt to garner sympathy. Diya explains that it was just a spontaneous gesture. “I was having a meal at the home of a supporter. It was spontaneous. Going into the kitchen to help so I helped make the rotis. Honestly speaking I am not a great cook -- but I do make good rotis and it is something that I enjoy doing! Kitchens are places where families and especially women of the house often congregate, while a meal is being prepared and this is the same in my own home. Cooking and eating a meal together creates bonds and an understanding between people.”
Diya Kumari and Narender Singh have three children and the eldest, Padmanabh Singh, now 20, was adopted by his grandfather as his successor and head of the erstwhile ruling family of Jaipur. The couple have two more children, Lashraj Singh and Gauravi Kumari. The handsome 20-year-old Padmanabh is a polo star and is studying in NYC and Rome and made his runway debut in Milan when he walked for Dolce & Gabbana at the Men's Spring/Summer 19. He also debuted at the prestigious Le Bal in Paris where he escorted Ava Phillippe, daughter of Reese Witherspoon. As a mother of three grown-up children, one wonders how supportive they are about their mother being in politics and is governance and political acumen something that comes naturally to royalty.
Diya says, “ Of course they are supportive of me being in politics even if it does take a lot of my time. They know that I am working to truly make a difference, to serve the people and they have given me their full support. My children are studying at the moment - whether they would like to join politics or not in the future would be entirely their individual decision. “
Diya Kumari is contesting in elections from Rajsamand Constituency
Given the considerable clout the royal family of Jaipur commands socially and emotionally in Rajasthan, it may not be too far-fetched to see Diya Kumari become a force to reckon with in the state and even a CM probably. Diya refuses to acknowledge the observation as she plays it down by saying that she is fully focussed on the elections in Rajsamand for now. She adds, “Frankly, I have never visualized where I would see myself in 10 years. That is a long way away. I tend to take things as they come. Like I said, I am currently focused on winning this election and then on the vast amount of hard work ahead of me to achieve the greatest impact possible for my constituency.”
Post elections, win or lose, Diya’s priority for development of the Rajsamand constituency will be tourism infrastructure, railway connectivity, better road connectivity, attracting investment, creating employment opportunities through new projects, getting the pending works of Krishna Tourism Circuit completed, improving employable skills of youth, setting up institutes of higher education and army recruitment camps, among others.
While that is quite a bit even for a princesses platter, she also has many other obligations. These include management of cultural heritage including our world-renowned museum at City Palace in Jaipur and the Jaigarh fort, as well as two schools and the hotels. “And close to my heart is my charity work supporting various initiatives, and in particular my own NGO which is a foundation working towards the skills development and economic empowerment of women. And last but not least, being a mother to my three wonderful children.”