A Nearly four-decade long dispute between the erstwhile Mysore royal family and the state of Karnataka on the ownership of the sprawling Mysore and Bangalore Palaces and vast estates has again escalated.
The dispute has risen again on account of a key member of the family linking its participation in the annual Dasara festivities in Mysore this year with the ownership rights over palaces – which the government has claimed.
The last descendant in the royal lineage Srikantadatta Wodeyar died in December last year, without naming an heir to his titular position and the royal family is yet to name its representative to don the king’s mantle for the Dasara festivities. The Karnataka government wants Pramoda Devi, Wodeyar’s wife, to take on the royal mantle or name a nephew of the late “prince”.
The dispute ahead of the October Dasara celebrations has caused embarrassment to Siddaramaiah-led Congress government, especially after Pramoda Devi shed tears during a press conference on Saturday and accused the government of gradually sidelining the royal family.
At the press conference, Pramoda Devi said that her naming of the royal descendant to conduct the Dasara ceremonies would depend on the resolution of disputes pertaining to the ownership of the Mysore palace located on 72 acres.
“At this point of time everything depends on the outcome of the case of the Mysore Palace Acquisition Act 1998 pending in the Karnataka High Court which may take many years. I realise the urgency involved in naming a successor more than anyone else. I would do it today if I could but there are constraints and uncertainties over the ownership of the Mysore Palace,” she said.
Accusing the state government of tormenting her over the last eight months since her husband’s death, the “princess” said that it is now up to the state government to bring about a resolution “keeping in mind the importance of the cultural legacy of Mysore and the public sentiments attached to it”.
The state government has indicated that it will speak to Pramoda Devi to resolve the issue, besides hinting at appointing a government official as the ceremonial head of Dasara festivities if the royal family fails to select a titular heir.
The dispute between the state and the family over the Mysore and Bangalore palaces dates back to the 1970s when the Karnataka government sought to control the properties after it was found that efforts were on to sell the Bangalore palace to private individuals.
Though the Supreme Court later ruled for ownership of the palace properties in favour of the royal family, the Karnataka government under H D Deve Gowda, where Siddaramaiah was deputy CM, moved to take over the palaces and its properties.
A status quo on the issue of the ownership of the palaces was imposed by the SC after the palace takeover laws were enacted in 1996