September 19, 2014 2:55:07 pm
Fears of a standoff between the erstwhile royal family of Mysore and the Karnataka government becoming a spoiler in the traditional Dasara celebrations in the heritage city of Mysore subsided on Thursday with the state government agreeing to tone down festivities in the Mysore Palace premises as a mark of respect for the erstwhile prince of Mysore Srikantadatta Wodeyar who died last December.
The Karnataka government which positions the Dasara celebration in Mysore as a major tourist event in the state calendar decided to tone down festivities in the palace complex in deference to the request of Wodeyar’s widow princess Pramoda Devi. A stand off between the princess and the government on conducting the Dasara celebrations with traditional gaiety had earlier posed the threat of the royal family boycotting the celebrations that are a key part of life in the region around Mysore associated with the former kingdom.
On Thursday at a press conference princess Pramoda Devi and the Karnataka minister in charge of the Dasara festivities Srinivasa Prasad stated that the family and the government had agreed on a compromise formula out of mutual respect for each others wishes. The Mysore Deputy Commissioner C Shikha announced at the press conference that in deference to the request of princess Pramoda Devi for observance of a mourning period for the death of Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar the Dasara celebrations would not take place at the palace premises.
“Our sympathies are with Maharani Pramoda Devi and her family for the loss therefore all the programs will be dedicated to our late Maharaja. Conducting dance and music recitals in front of the palace will be inappropriate. Therefore such performances would not be a part of the celebrations,” the Mysore district in-charge minister and the Chairman of the Dasara Executive Committee V Srinivasa Prasad said.
Clearing her stand princess Pramoda Devi said that she had conceded to the request of the district administration for muted celebrations since larger public interest and sentiments are associated with the historical celebrations in the the former kingdom. Despite their grief the royal family is not inclined to disrupt the celebrations, she said. Pramoda Devi who has not announced a heir to Wodeyar to participate in the traditional celebrations said that she had not attempted to blackmail the government over the issue.
“Though it would be unconventional to see the throne lying vacant custom the administration has agreed it will conduct the celebration by respecting our mourning,” Pramoda Devi said.
Tension had escalated between the royal family and the state government a month ago after Pramoda Devi indicated that she would not name a successor to the throne ahead of Dasara and also indicated that she would like a settlement over state government attempts to take over the palaces and properties of the royal family. “A successor to the throne cannot be named and function under troubled circumstances. It is my duty to create a conducive atmosphere so that a heir can exist without being troubled,” she had stated.
A dispute has been in existence between the government of Karnataka and the erstwhile royal family over the Mysore and Bangalore palaces since the 1970s. In the 1970s the Karnataka government under reformist Congress chief minister and backward classes leader Devaraj Urs had tried to bring the royal properties under government control after it was found that members of the royalty were trying to sell the Bangalore palace to private individuals. The government had sought control of the palaces as places of heritage and historic importance.
Though the Supreme Court later ruled for ownership of the palace properties in favour of the royal family, the Karnataka government under the Janata Dal party lead by H D Deve Gowda, when the current Congress Chief Minister Siddaramaiah was a deputy, moved to take over the palaces and its properties through the legislative route. A status quo on the issue of the ownership of the palaces was imposed by the Supreme Court after the palace takeover laws were enacted in 1996 and 1998 by the state government. The issue has been in limbo with a special bench due to be constituted by the state government to resolve the dispute.
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