On the 132nd birth anniversary of Maharaja Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla, recalling his lead role in the merger of Gujarat States with the Union of India

When it came to merger of Gujarat States with the Union of India, Mr. V.P. Menon, Secretary of States under Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in the Government of India, approached Maharaja Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla to help in the process. Widely travelled and with vast experience of ruling his 4,000 square kilometres Rajpipla State for over 32 years, Maharaja Vijaysinhji was held in great esteem by fellow rulers, and trusted by the Government.

Wrote Mr. Menon in his book ‘The Story of Integration of Indian States’:
“I went to Bombay on 17 March 1948. I had an informal meeting with the rulers. The first thing I did was to announce that the formal meetings with the rulers of the full jurisdictional States would be held not in the Bombay Secretariat, but at the residence of the Maharajah of Rajpipla (Palm Beach, 42 Nepeansea Road). This had a good effect. We met continuously for three days, the discussions generally extending into the late hours of the night.”

Maharaja Vijaysinhji impressed on the rulers of Gujarat States that the time had come to integrate with the Union of India. How hard this task must have been can be gauged from the fact, that not only had he himself nurtured his State for well over three decades, but he was about to hand over the principality that his Gohil Rajput dynasty had ruled for six centuries.

Mr. Menon continued, “After these discussions, the late Maharajah of Rajpipla expressed on behalf of the rulers their desire to integrate their States with the province of Bombay and made the following statement: 
“We have the pleasure to inform you that, as rulers of Gujarat States, we believe our Mother Country and particularly Gujarat looks up to us to make all sacrifices in the wider interests of India as a whole. We, therefore, have cheerfully responded to the call of duty and decided to take the first step in forming the province of Maha Gujarat by integrating our States with the province of Bombay. We invoke God’s blessings on our decision”.

Thus came down the curtain on a long, turbulent, as well as triumphant, chapter in history. With a smile, but undoubtedly with a heavy heart, Maharaja Vijaysinhji handed over the administration of his beloved Rajpipla State to the praja mandal for the last few months, and set sail for England where he had an estate in Old Windsor. Life was never the same for him.

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