The differences between the two royal families have been there for over 200 years now.


New Delhi: “Maharaj” is what Congress leader Digvijaya Singh would always refer to his party colleague Madhavrao Scindia till the latter died in a plane crash in 2001, though Digvijaya Singh or Diggy Raja, as he is called by his close friends, was only two years younger to Scindia. The subservient nature of the relationship between Singh, who is the 13th “Raja” or king of the Raghogarh state, and Scindia, who was the 10th “Maharaj” of the Scindia dynasty, can be traced back to more than 200 years when in 1793 the “Khichi Chauhan” dynasty, to which Singh belongs, became a “tributary” to the Scindias who had been ruling Gwalior since 1731. The designation “Maharaj” in the hierarchy which governs royal family traditions, is above “Raja”.

The “Khichi Chauhan” clan, who are Rajputs, belonged to the same clan from which Prithviraj Chauhan came. The Raghogarh “state”, the base of the Khichi clan, was established in 1677 by Raja Lal Singh, the first king of Khichi dynasty. As per official records, the Khichi clan had been prospering well in the area of Guna, Shujalpur and the neighbouring areas (present Madhya Pradesh) until 1780, when they were attacked by the fourth Maharaja of Gwalior, Madhavrao Scindia I. Scindia had at that time imprisoned Raja Balwant Singh and his son Raja Jai Singh. This feud between the Maharaja and the Raja lasted till the late 1840s after which the British intervened.

Official records said that Khilchipur used to pay Rs 700 per annum as tribute to the Scindias in those days.

Very interestingly, both Scindia and Singh are not from Madhya Pradesh. While Scindias are originally from Satara, Maharashtra, the Singhs are from Jhalawar, Rajasthan. The Scindias, in public rallies, have said that they are from the Kurmi community; Singhs are Rajputs.

In 2020, the differences between the two royal families, one led by Singh and the other by Jyotiraditya Scindia, has now again come to the forefront.

According to a journalist with an English daily, who covered Madhya Pradesh politics in the 1990s, when Madhavrao Scindia was the prominent player in state politics along with Arjun Singh, Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh were still content playing second fiddle to them. Scindia never gave too much of “lift” to either Kamal Nath or Singh.

“The relationship between Scindia and Singh was not of two friends; rather it was like a king and his follower. Singh knew and respected this boundary and never tried to transcend it. He would refer to Scindia as Maharajji even while referring to him in third person. The long family history that existed between the two families was always palpable. Maybe almost 20 years after the death of Madhavrao Scindia, it still exists,” the journalist said while hinting  at the ties between Jyotiraditya Scindia and Digvijaya Singh. The royal legacy that Madhavrao Scindia has got from his forefathers was something that he could never shrug off. And unlike Singh, who was and is known for mixing very easily with the common people, Scindia preferred staying away from social gatherings. Singh was always the first to reach a marriage function of locals, Scindia rarely so.

Jyotiraditya Scindia grew up seeing how Singh and Kamal Nath were “junior” to his father. So ever since he entered politics on 17 December 2001, he never saw either Singh or Kamal Nath as his seniors despite it being a fact. Rather to him, they were his “junior” at the worst and his competitors at best. His closeness to Rahul Gandhi and his “rich” family history, too, added to the perception that he was equally tall if not taller than Singh or Kamal Nath. Incidentally, Kamal Nath had accompanied Jyotiraditya Scindia to the AICC office in Delhi when he had joined the party.