Former Member of Parliament from Vadodara and scion of royal family Shrimant Maharaja Ranjitsinh Pratapsinh Gaekwad died late on Wednesday. The Maharaja, who turned 74 on May 8, is survived by wife Shubhangini Devi, son Samarjeetsinh and two daughters.
According to reports, Ranjitsinh breathed his last at around 00:15hrs at a private hospital in Vadodara on Thursday. He will be cremated at the royal family's cremation ground behind Kirti Mandir around 10 am on Friday. Ranjitsinh was suffering from kidney ailments and had undergone a surgery in a Mumbai hospital in December last year. Later, he was also administered radiation therapy at a hospital in Karamsad, near Nadiad.
Within hours of his demise, Ranjitsinh's body shifted to his home, Laxmi Vilas Palace. Thousands of Barodians paid their last respect as his mortal remains were kept in air-conditioned box at the palace.
Ranjitsinh was the second son of the late ruler of Baroda, Maharaja Pratapsinhrao Gaekwad. He became the “Maharaja” of Baroda after the death of his elder brother Fatehsinhrao Gaekwad in September, 1988.
Ranjitsinh's younger brother Sangramsinh, with whom he was involved in an unseemly family dispute over ancestral property, had flown down to Vadodara to see him in hospital a few days ago. According to sources close to members of royal family, the late Maharaja had expressed his wish to honour his great grand father and former ruler Sayajirao Gaekwad with Bharat Ratna posthumously.
He served two terms as Congress MP from Vadodara seat, first in 1980 and again in 1984.
Ranjitsinh enjoyed close ties with the Gandhi family, especially with Rajiv Gandhi and his wife Sonia, in whose honour he had hosted a dinner at his Laxmi Palace in 1986. Chief minister Narendra Modi and royal families of other erstwhile kingdoms like Kolhapur, Jasdan and Devgarh Baria are expected to attend the funeral of Ranjitsinhji.
MS University has declared two-day mourning period with its offices to remain closed for two days. A condolence meeting is scheduled at 1:30pm at Senate Hall, University office. Baroda Cricket Association has also decided to keep the shutters down at Gun Store office to pay tribute to Maharaja and a former first class player. Chief minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences at Ranjitsinh Gaekwad's demise. The CM said that Ranjitsinhji had lived his life with simplicity and contributed greatly to art, literature and culture.