Plates: Rs 1.5cr, taste: not known

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By RASHEED KIDWAI
  • Published 11.11.13
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Yashodhara

Bhopal, Nov. 10: In Wall Street that chronicled the heady “greed-is-good” years, the idealistic dad tells the impatient son: “What you see is a guy who never measured a man’s success by the size of his wallet.”

Cut to 2013: never measure anyone by the size of the wallet, not just because this is the age of plastic money. The dinner set may be a better benchmark.

Yashodhara Raje Scindia, descendant of the former Gwalior royals and aunt to Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, has just Rs 15,400 as cash in hand, according to her affidavit filed with the Election Commission.

But a sparkling nugget stays almost hidden at the bottom of Page 5 of the assets declaration affidavit: “Bhojan set 22 carets — 5681gms, 1,54,19,938.00”. That should mean 22-carat dinnerware valued at Rs 1.54 crore.

The affidavit of Yashodhara, now a BJP Lok Sabha MP from Gwalior, five years ago did not appear to have mentioned such a dinner set. Since some properties of the royals are in dispute, it could be that the ownership right over the dinner set had been cleared up in the intervening years.

It is not that easy these days to spend Rs 1.54 crore on plates and cutlery, especially if you depend on online shopping.

The costliest appears to be Flora Danica, a 101-piece dinner set crafted by the Royal Copenhagen Porcelain Manufactory. The price comes to $168,500 or around Rs 1 crore, which means you still are left with Rs 54 lakh before you catch up with Gwalior.

The Scindias had migrated from Satara in modern-day Maharashtra to Gwalior some 300 years ago.

Yashodhara’s mother, Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia, reportedly had an emerald Shivalingam larger than an egg; gold tongue scrapers, a vault full of jewellery encrusted with rubies, diamonds and pearls; a silver bathtub set on a leaping fish; more than 200 acres of prime land in Delhi, and a huge crystal chandelier from Vienna.

The Scindias are also known to own prize properties across the country, including the Jai Vilas Palace, Gwalior. At Mumbai’s Peddar Road, they own a mansion estimated to be worth over Rs 750 crore. A dispute is on over two bungalows — Vijay Vilas and Devonshire, on Warden Road, Mumbai.

Yashodhara’s affidavit makes no mention of these disputed properties.

After the Rajmata died in 2001, a probate case was started in Delhi and Mumbai high courts to examine her will. The cases continue.

Yashodhara’s affidavit says she has a bank balance of Rs 13.6 lakh across nine accounts. The market value of her investments in bonds and shares is estimated at Rs 1.56 crore while her insurance policies are worth Rs 14 lakh.

Yashodhara, who had represented Shivpuri in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly in 1998 and 2003, was not available to share if food served in the 22-carat dinner set tasted better than that on plates made of leaves or Styrofoam that are ubiquitous at political carnivals.