Kashmir's royal family members may join BJP

Kashmir's royal family members may join BJP

Two descendants of former Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir are likely to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP),  ahead of upcoming Assembly elections, on Sunday.

Sources told Deccan Herald that senior Congress leader and former Union minister Karan Singh is all set to join the BJP along with his son Ajat Shatru.

Karan Singh’s ancestors ruled the princely state for more than a century until his father, Hari Singh, abdicated in 1947. The decision of Karan Singh and his son is seen as an achievement for BJP strategists, who aim at capturing 44 seats in the 87-member Assembly.

Karan Singh, head of the World Hindu Council, is also a Rajya Sabha member from Delhi.  In 1949, at the age of 18, he was appointed regent when his father stepped down as ruler after the princely state’s accession to India.

He served successively as regent, the first and last Sadr-i-Riyasat and governor of Jammu and Kashmir from 1965 to 1967.

Ajat Shatru Singh was a minister during the National Conference (NC) regime led by Farooq Abdullah from 1996 to 2002. After winning his first election in 1996 from the Nagrota constituency, he lost the next two in 2002 and 2008.  “As NC working president and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has decided to field his close aide and business tycoon Davendra Singh Rana from Nagrota, Ajat Shatru is likely to contest against him on a BJP ticket,” said sources.