23-yr-old battle over Gaekwad inheritance likely to be settled

Maharaja Samarjitsinh to ink a deal with his uncle Sangramsinh

Written by Aditi Raja | Vadodara | Published:October 5, 2013 3:42 am

The king-size battle over the inheritance of the royal Gaekwad property of the erstwhile state of Baroda appears to be drawing towards a settlement. Samarjitsinh Gaekwad,who was coronated as the Maharaja of Vadodara in June 2012,after the demise of his father Maharaja Ranjitsinh Gaekwad last year,is likely to ink a deal with his uncle Sangramsinh Gaekwad to end the 23-year battle that has soured the illustrious legacy left behind by Maharaja Sayajirao III Gaekwad.

According to sources in the Laxmi Vilas Palace,a compromise between the two factions of the Gaekwad family is in the offing,with the division of the wealth being worked out. However,observers of the compromise say,the deal is treading on a thin line with the actual property of Laxmi Vilas Palace being kept out of the compromise formula. Palace insiders say that out of the family property worth about Rs 10,000 crore, that has been under dispute between the late Maharaja Ranjitsinh and his younger brother Sangramsinh,the latter has been offered the white Nazarbag palace in Mandvi,Ashok bungalow,Indumati Mahal and Bakul bungalow at Rajmahal Road,two family lands near Makarpura Air Force,a plot in Sama as well as Padakhana Varasiya road in the city. An insider says,“The compromise will mean that the litigations and court cases will come to an end and both parties will be free to use their properties the way they like.” While the worth of the properties runs into several thousand crores,the exact market value of the properties cannot be estimated owing to their historical significance. Experts say that even if the deal is inked,whoever retains the possession of the properties will be unable to use it without the approval of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) that protects the royal heritage.

Insiders also say that no decision has been reached yet on the division of many other big areas of real estate and the priceless heirlooms,including three precious diamonds,which form part of the Gaekwad legacy. The two parties are also deliberating the ownership for several precious gemstones,necklaces,the historical swords of the royal family,two chariots of gold and silver and countless paintings of Raja Ravi Varma.

Although the above-mentioned properties are only part of the larger deal being worked out between the warring parties,family sources say,“the fact that Sangramsinh has been kept out of the majestic Laxmi Vilas Palace will stay as a contention between the two”. The current occupants of the palace — descendants of Late Ranjitsinh Gaekwad – are reluctant to share this part of the property with Sangramsinh,who has claimed an equal share in the palace property.

“The family is very clear that the palace property is not going to be part of this compromise as they have already reached the final stage of converting the palace into a heritage hotel,” says a source. In fact,Samarjitsinh,his wife Radhikaraje and mother Shubhanginidevi are all set to shift to the Motibaug palace near the golf course to allow the heritage hotel to be at the centrestage.

When contacted,the Sangramsinh Gaekwad camp refused to comment on the issue while Samarjitsinh Gaekwad said that the compromise is still being worked out. “Until the deal is signed it is not done,” Samarjitsinh said.

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