Veteran Congress leader Karan Singh's son Ajatshatru Singh on Wednesday triggered a controversy, accusing the party and the National Conference of being behind the banishment of his grandfather Maharaja Hari Singh, the last ruler of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, from there.
A BJP MLC, Ajatshatru Singh made the allegation while campaigning for his party's candidate and Union minister Jitendra Singh, pitted against his (Ajatshtru's) elder brother Vikramaditya Singh on a Congress ticket from Udhampur-Doda Lok Sabha seat. The younger Dogra dynasty scion hurled the charge, seeking to foil his father and elder brother's attempt to seek votes in the name of his grandfather, who, he said was forced to live in exile in erstwhile Bombay for 14 years till his death there.
"Irrespective of what they say about Maharaja Hari Singh, the Congress and the National Conference conspired to banish the Maharaja from Jammu and Kashmir and forced him to live in exile in Bombay for fourteen years till his death there," he alleged, while addressing a rally in Udhampur.
Referring to the appeals of his father and elder brother to vote the Congress candidate in name of Maharaja Hari Singh, Ajatshatru Singh asked people to judge for themselves about the truth of the Maharaja's exile and parties behind it. Karan Singh and Vikramaditya Singh have also been batting strongly for a holiday on his birthday in September and targeting the BJP for its failure to grant it.
The Congress fought for the freedom of the country and it was the Congress government in association with my grandfather Maharaja Hari Singh that ensured that the state became part of India," Vikramaditya Singh said at a different rally.
Dismissing the Congress leaders' charges of the BJP doing nothing to declare Maharaja Hari Singh's birthday as a holiday in the state, BJP spokesperson Anil Gupta, a retired Army brigadier, said, "The BJP is fully aware of the history of Jammu and Kashmir."
"It is also aware of the humiliation caused to the last ruler of the state, Maharaja Hari Singh by the National Conference-Congress combine under the tutelage of Sheikh Abdullah and Jawahar Lal Nehru," he added.
"If anybody is responsible for hurting Dogra pride and legacy, it is the last scion of Dogra dynasty who is now trying to gain sympathy by distorting the historical facts," said Gupta.
Brig Gupta said while Maharaja Hari Singh was banished from the state, Karan Singh enjoyed the high office of Sadar-e-Riyasat and later as a Union minister. The Udhampur-Doda constituency, which goes to polls in second phase on April 18, will see four Rajputs - Jitendra Singh of the BJP, Vikramaditya Singh of the Congress, DSS founder Choudhary Lal Singh and Harsh Dev Singh of the Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party - pitted against each other, but the main battle is between the BJP and Congress contenders.