They may be royal, but their lives are often not royal fables. This is exactly what is happening in the 400-year-old princely state of Rajkot in Gujarat.
The feud is most intriguing. The family is fighting over 20,000 crores of property. A princess is claiming her right as a daughter from her estranged brother. And now a nephew is demanding his stake in the property. The brother’s lawyers claim that the sister is simply creating a ruckus and has already been given Rs 1.5 crore as per the now-deceased father’s desire. The sister says the will was tampered with.
It was barely a fortnight ago when Thakore Saheb Mandhatasinh Jadeja’s sister Ambalika Devi filed a case against the 17th King of the erstwhile princely state. She is alleging that her brother made her sign a release deed, which construed that the princess had relinquished her inherited property.
On Friday, September 3, the dispute went a notch higher when the king’s nephew Ranashurveer Sinh approached the court, alleging that the king and certain government officials have together siphoned off property worth crores from the rest of the family. Ranashurveer has also written a letter to the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Vijay Rupani, seeking action against those responsible.
Who was Manoharsinji Jadeja?
Manoharsinhji is the eldest son of Pradyumansinhji Lakhajirajsinhji and was born at the Ranjit Villas Palace in Rajkot. His brother was Prahladsinh Jadeja. The latest entrant in the property dispute, Rana Shurveersinh, is the grandson of Prahladsinh.
Manoharsinh Jadeja was educated at Rajkumar College, Rajkot, and at Elphinstone College, Mumbai. He was awarded a Master of Laws degree from the University of London and was one of the most refined personalities of Gujarat, with huge properties in Breach Candy, Mumbai, Gandhinagar and Rajkot among other places. He was active in Gujarat politics from the Sixties and did a fabulous job as Finance Minister of Gujarat. His last term in the Gujarat Assembly was in 1995. Manoharsinhji died of a prolonged illness in September 2018. Mandhatasinh was his only son besides three daughters. Ambalika, who is based in Jhansi, is Mandhata’s younger sister.
Like his father and grandfather, Manoharsinhji was a keen cricketer and made his first-class debut for Saurashtra against Gujarat in the 1955–56 Ranji Trophy, scoring 59 runs in his first innings. He served as captain of the team from the 1957–58 season onwards and was a regular in the team until his retirement after the 1963–64 season. Usually playing as a top-order batsman, his highest first-class score (and only century) was an innings of 144 runs against Gujarat in December 1957
A man of letters, refined taste and a man of words, Manoharsinhji was famous in India for his immaculate writing and reading.
Mandhata, also known as Mayur Raja, is reported to have disputes with his father when he was alive. He joined the BJP in 2009, which reportedly had shocked the loyalists at the Palace, as the clan had always been with Congress. Mandhata joined BJP as he was impressed with the work of then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
Mandhata ran a heritage chain of hotels. He officially took over as the King of Rajkot in 2020, two years after his father’s death. Though the title means nothing, he had done this as a ritual.
The Property Feud
Ranashurveer has alleged that an attempt was being made to suppress the case. He says, “Thakor Mandhatasinh had links with the Mamlatdar’s office. An officer from the office and one other officer from the Prat office had demanded Rs 10 crore.”
In addition, Ranashurveer has stated that the late Maharaja Pradyumna Sinh Jadeja had inherited 685.3 acres of land from his predecessors. He explains, “We too are heirs to this undivided share of ancestral property, as we are one joint family. The share has not been divided based on its meet-and-bounds. Following the death of Pradyumna Sinhji, a will was made in the favour of Manohar Sinhji. But the probate or letter of administration of the will by Manohar Sinhji has not been obtained from the court and hence no rights can be established on the property by the current Maharaja.”
It is also said that his father Aniruddha Sinh cannot relinquish his right as the Registration Act provides that if a person has a rightful share in immovable property worth more than one hundred rupees, it can be removed only after an affidavit is registered with the Sub-Registrar. It is said that Aniruddha Sinh has notarised his right by stamping only Rs 100 on stamp paper. As it is not legal, the legal heirs of late Pradyumna Sinh are entitled to their share in the land.
It may be mentioned that Ranashurveer Sinh has 11 special properties, including 675 acres of agricultural land, the site of VD-Randarda lake and the property, which was in dispute between the brothers and sisters, the land of Madhapar and the court of Sardar.
He has also filed a case for any property not mentioned. These include the palace on Palace Road, as well as the outhouse on Randarda Lake as well as the land, and the multi-crore Dena Bank House. The value of the palace road and its land alone is estimated at over Rs 500 crore. The total estimated value of the Rajkot royal family is estimated to be over Rs 20,000 crore.
MandhataSinh’s mother Mankumari Devi Sahiba Sinh Jadeja, who is from the Alwar royal family in Rajasthan, is siding her son as are two of his sisters. Mandhatasinh is married to the princess of Jamnia of Madhya Pradesh. Mandhatasinh has two daughters and is considered a progressive and liberal king. He studied hotel management in Switzerland. One of MandhataSinh’s daughters is married into the royal family of Khimsar in Rajasthan. His other daughter Mridula Kumari is a known cricketer.
Fact: The Jadejas own several vintage cars. One of the cars, a Rolls Royce car custom-built for Mandhatasinhji’s great grandfather Dharmendrasinhji Lakhajiraj in 1934, is very special. The car had been outside of the family for 42 years, as a part of Bill Meredith-Owens’ Collection and was once the most expensive car in the world.