Raghuraj Pratap Singh has been winning elections since 1993 as an independent candidate.
Lucknow: The kingdoms of rajas and ranis may have been abolished decades ago, but royal families continued to rule over politics in Uttar Pradesh.
But for the first time in 2017, the influence, sheen and shine of royal contestants are gradually vanishing. Their word no longer commands political parties; even voters have started questioning their performance and credibility.
Raghuraj Pratap Singh, scion of the Kunda and Bhadri estates in Pratapgarh, has been winning elections since 1993 as an independent candidate. Also known as Raja Bhaiyya, he has been minister in BJP and SP governments.
However, over the years, Raja Bhaiyya has lost his ‘independence’ and is now seen as an active SP leader, although he is yet to join the party.
“We will see his performance before we vote for him. He is as good or as bad as other candidates,” said Hari Ram, a shopkeeper in Kunda.
Till a few years ago, getting anyone to utter a word against Raja Bhaiyya in his constituency was an impossible task.
Another royal family that is losing its sheen after being involved in an ordinary domestic battle is that of Congerss MP Sanjay Singh, the erstwhile raja of Amethi.
An ugly battle that pitted him and his second wife Ameeta against his first wife Garima, son Anant Vikram and daughters Mahima and Shaivya two years ago, now threatens to get revived in the election season.
Ms Garima has been named a candidate by the BJP from Amethi while Ms Ameeta is insistent on contesting as a Congress candidate from the same constituency. This is one battle that is bound to take an ugly turn in the coming days.
Raja Anand Singh, of the Mankapur estate in Gonda, was a minister in the Samajwdai Party. He has been forced into retirement and denied ticket because his son Kirti Vardhan opted for BJP in 2014. The royal family is out of electoral political this year.
The raja of Bhadawar, Mahendra Aridaman Singh, and his wife Pakshkalika Singh, have been shifting loyalty from one party to another with alarming frequency.
Mahendra Aridaman Singh was sacked form the Cabinet by chief minister Akhilesh Yadav last year. The couple then switched over to BJP even after being named candidates by the SP.
In Rampur, the young Nawab Kazim Ali left the Congress to join the BSP, while his mother and former MP Begum Noor Bano remains loyal to the Congress.
“There was a time when members of the royal families were revered in politics. But over the years, they have proved that they are also hungry for power like ordinary politicians,” political analyst S.M. Javed said.
“They have lost glamour and the respect of the people. Coming from a royal family is no longer a guarantee for success,” Mr Javed said.