Mann Ki Baat: PM Modi pays tribute to Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia; shares anecdote from early 1990s

The last Maharani of Gwalior is much more than just that honorific would suggest. From being a multi-term member of Parliament to sharing jail space with Maharani Gayatri Devi during the Emergency -- she had led a fascinating life. And on Sunday, speaking during the weekly Mann Ki Baat session, Prime Minister Modi paid tribute to the Rajmata.

Modi shared an anecdote dating all the way back to the 1990s when he had interacted with Vijayaraje Scindia. "She hailed from a Royal Family and devoted herself to public service. She was blessed with compassion," the PMO added in a tweet.

While much has been said about her work and dedication, Modi on Sunday gave insight to her more maternal side. Recalling a rally that she had participated in, the Prime Minister praised her dedication. The rally from Kanyakumari to Kashmir was organised by Murli Manohar Joshi and as Modi narrates, they had reached Shivpuri late in the night, at around 2 am. At the time, the now Prime Minister was startled to see the Rajmata standing outside his door with a glass of hot turmeric milk.

Modi adds that he later found out that she had done this for everyone in the Yatra.

Born Lekha Divyeshwari Devi, she was distantly linked to Nepal's Rana dynasty through her mother and her family lived in exile in what is today Madhya Pradesh's Sagar district. At the age of 22, she married Jiwajirao Scindia and assumed the name Vijayaraje Scindia. Over the years, Vijayaraje Scindia became a formidable figure. One of the highest ranking royals in the era of British rule, she later became a major political force.

She was elected on multiple occasions to both the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha, first as a member of the Congress party in 1957 and then, in later years on other party tickets. After quitting the Congress, she won the Guna seat with a Swatantra Party ticket in 1967, before joining the Bharaitya Jan Sangh, the precursor to the BJP. In 1971, Vijayaraje defied the Indira Gandhi wave and helped Bharatiya Jan Sangh win three seats in the Gwalior region – Gwalior, Guna and Bhind. Vijayaraje would later spend time in jail during the Emergency, sharing a cell with another royal figure – Gayatri Devi.

Of her five children, Madhavrao Scindia, Vasundhara Raje and Yashondhara Raje had taken to politics. Madhavao's son Jyotiraditya Scindia had recently created waves after joining the BJP.

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