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Former royal Gayatri Devi passes away

Last updated on: July 29, 2009 17:55 IST

Charismatic former royal Rajmata Gayatri Devi, who had an eventful stint in politics and was jailed during the Emergency, died at a hospital in Jaipur on Wednesday, following prolonged illness. She was 90.

She was admitted to Satokben Durlabh Memorial Hospital early this month and was discharged a few days ago. But she was readmitted on Tuesday as she was suffering from a chest infestion.

"She recovered from her gastrointestinal problems but on Tuesday she was detected with a lung infection. Her condition deteriorated this morning and she succumbed to her illness," Dr Subhash Kala, who was attending on her, said.

The London-born princess of Cooch Behar was the third Maharani of Jaipur, from 1939 to 1970, after her marriage to Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II and was later known as Rajmata or Queen Mother.

Gayatri Devi was one of the few royals whose liberal outlook took her well beyond the traditionally limited activities of a Queen mother and won unprecedented success in the political arena.

Celebrated for her classical beauty her iconic fashion sense, Gayatri Devi was known for her strong character and was a particularly avid equestrienne.

The prestigious fashion magazine Vogue had named Gayatri Devi as one of the 10 most beautiful women in the world. After Gayatri won the Jaipur seat in the Lok Sabha in 1962, Kennedy introduced her during an event as "the woman with the most staggering majority that anyone has ever earned in an election."

She tasted victory in the world's largest landslide poll win bagging 192,909 votes of 246,516 cast and the achievement was endorsed by the Guinness Book of Records.

Gayatri Devi contested as the candidate of Swatantra party of C Rajagopalachari, the last and only Indian Governor-General of India. She continued to hold this seat on 1967 and 1971, contesting against the Congress Party.

This enraged the then prime minister Indira Gandhi, who retaliated in 1971 by abolishing the privy purses, and stopping all royal privileges, breaking the treaties agreed upon in 1947.

Gayatri Devi was accused of breaking tax laws, and served 5 months in Tihar Jail in Delhi during the Emergency. She retired from politics after that experience.

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