The royal dynasty of Jaipur has been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records on two occasions. First, for the world’s most expensive wedding, that of Sawai Man Singh II’s eldest daughter, and then for the largest majority won by any candidate in any democratic election in the world, that candidate being Sawai Man Singh II’s third wife, Gayatri Devi, the former princess of Cooch Behar and the Rajmata of Jaipur.
Gayatri Devi was one of India’s most sophisticated, independent, and elegant Maharanis, known for her exquisite chiffon saris paired with pearl or polki necklaces. Her name has been on numerous lists of the world’s most beautiful women, and her look has been imitated by ladies all over the world, but she claims she was unaware of this.
Her encouragement of polo and her involvement in education, particularly the creation of Jaipur’s well-known Maharani Gayatri Devi School for girls, demonstrated her commitment to India’s democratic and sociocultural endeavour. In the Lok Sabha elections of 1962, she ran for the Swatantra Party and won the Jaipur seat with the world’s largest ever majority – 1,75,000 votes.
She entered politics and established the Swatantra Party in the state, growing it into a major political force. However, she was unable to acquire power since her party was perceived as a party of feudal lords seeking to reclaim lost land and power.
She, unlike the other maharanis, refused to live in purdah and is credited as being the first woman to push for women’s liberation. She also rose to prominence as a fashion icon.
C Rajagopalachari, India’s last governor-general, founded the Swatantra Party in 1959 to encourage free entrepreneurship in the country. The maharani became engaged in politics, she claimed, since she was unable to address the problems of her former subjects following the relocation of India’s nobles.
She joined the party two years later and went on to win the 1962 Lok Sabha election by a record margin, earning a spot in the Guinness Book of Records.
However, the Swatantra Party, which she founded, was unable to meet the people’s expectations. In 1970, she lost her spouse, who died in a polo pitch in London.
Indira Gandhi abolished the privy purse in 1971, which was a major blow to the princes. After her husband died, the Maharani became the Rajmata.
She was anticipated to play a role in India’s nascent democracy, and she did so by being elected to Parliament three times and serving from 1962 to 1975. But, despite the fact that she was a sporadic participant in parliament and was rarely accessible to the public as a member of the Lok Sabha, people adored and revered her.
Gayatri Devi was one of many political opponents of the Congress Party jailed in 1975, when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi imposed a state of emergency due to a threat of “internal chaos.”
Devi quit politics after spending approximately six months in Tihar during the Emergency on charges of undeclared riches and gold, as well as losing her brother and husband in a matter of months. Her desire to help others, though, remained unwavering.