Rajasthan consists of 18 royal families, more than half of which have fielded candidates to the state and national elections. Perhaps the earliest instance of political involvement of the princes was when, soon after Independence, the Maharaja of Jodhpur, Hanwant Singh Rathore, actively went about persuading fellow rulers to stand as independents in the 1952 elections. His initiative was soon followed by the likes of Gayatri Devi of Jaipur who formed parties of their own. There were several who were absorbed by the Congress and whose descendants the party continues to field, and then there were those who switched loyalty from the Congress to the Jan Sangh or more recently to the BJP.
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