JHANSI & THE BRITISH
The British signed a new treaty with Ramchandrarao in 1817. His relations with the British remained friendly too. However, Ramchandrarao’s reign was one of chaos and neglect. The revenue and power of Jhansi state shrank considerably. When Ramchandrarao fell ill and died in 1835, he left no heir, and the British swooped in. His mother
Sakhubai had adopted her sister’s son but the British declared his claim to the throne invalid. Instead, they placed Raghunathrao II, the uncle of Ramchandra Rao, on the Jhansi throne. He proved to be incompetent and extravagant, and using these as reasons, in 1837, the British took the state directly under their control.
After Raghunathrao II, based on the recommendations of the British, Gangadharao became ruler of Jhansi in 1838 on conditions. Until he married, Gangadharrao would not have full rights over the kingdom. In exchange, he had to maintain a subsidiary force in Jhansi for the British. Later he was forced to cede part of his territory to the British. Raja Gangadharrao carried out several reforms in the administration and strengthened the Jhansi army. After the death of his first wife Ramabai, he married a young girl named Manikarnika Tambe in 1842. The wedding took place in the Ganesh temple near the Jhansi fort. According to Marathi tradition, the girl was given a new name: ‘Laxmibai’. They lost their four months old son. Overcome by grief, Gangadharrao died on 21st November 1853. After Gangadharrao’s death, the British announced that they were annexing Jhansi under the ‘Doctrine of Lapse’. What they hadn’t expected was that the Rani would put up a fight. She famously said: “Main Apni Jhansi nahi doongi” and the rest, as they say, is history