| The Jai Mahal Palace, which is at the centre of the inheritance dispute. Picture by Prem Singh
Jaipur, Aug. 20: The battle of Jaipur — as folks in this Pink City have dubbed the royal spat — is getting uglier by the day.
And two documents appear to hold the key to this fight between Rajmata Gayatri Devi and her former daughter-in-law, Thai Princess Rajawongse Priyanandana Rangsit, and grandchildren Devraj and Lalitya.
One is a document which the Rajmata’s counsel claims is her late son Jagat Singh’s will, but which Priyanandana Rangsit — Jagat’s wife before they divorced after seven years of marriage — believes is a fake.
The other is a letter, which according to the Rajmata’s step-son Prithviraj (Pat to his friends), was written by Priyanandana to the Rajmata in 1996.
The June 1996 ‘will’ — a copy is with The Telegraph — bequeaths all his property, worth around Rs 5,000 crore, to his mother.
| Rajmata Gayatri Devi
Priyanandana also says that Jagat’s shares in the estate had been diluted by issuing thousands of new shares and she had to “do something to safeguard the children’s legal rights to inherit their father’s properties”.
A district court here had asked Prithviraj to produce “the original will” before it on Saturday.
But the original will apparently did not reach the court, which decided to give Prithviraj one more month. The next hearing is on September 19.
“The will, as we have been saying from the very start, is a fake. Prithviraj is trying to manipulate the Rajmata,” says Priyanandana, now in Bangkok.
Sources close to Prithviraj say the second son of Sawai Man Singh — the former ruler of Jaipur — realises it will be “tough” to prove the authenticity of the will.
| The courtroom where the fate of the Jai Mahal Palace is being decided.
Picture by Prem Singh
“It isn’t like Pat to have forged the will, though. I am sure the will is genuine. It will only take time and effort to prove it,” says a royal-turned-businessman who knows Prithviraj.
Prithviraj refused to meet or speak, despite being contacted several times through the day.
A letter allegedly written by Priyanandana to the Rajmata in 1996, if proved genuine, might, however, ease some of his “worries” and strengthen his case — at least in the eyes of the public.
In the letter — The Telegraph saw a copy at Prithviraj’s office — the author has warned the Rajmata against “scheming again, and planning to come to Bangkok after the New Year”.
Prithviraj’s aides say if the letter is proved genuine, “his belief that Priyanandana’s hatred for the Rajmata, and not her children’s rights, is the driving force behind the current feud would seem more plausible”.
Throughout the controversy, Priyanandana has maintained that her “only aim was to ensure Devraj and Lalitya get their rightful property”.
For the Rajmata, now vacationing in London, the battle is possibly the biggest she has been involved in since the sixties and seventies when she won two successive Lok Sabha elections, beating candidates of Indira Gandhi’s Congress.
In 1971, she was jailed for allegedly breaking tax laws.
But just like then, there are those — especially the ordinary people of Jaipur — who believe the Rajmata has got a raw deal in the current controversy.
But if a source in the family, who recently spoke to her, is to be believed, the 85-year-old is “going to come back fighting, just like she has always done”.