In an election that has been dominated by discussions of corruption, Kesari Singh Bhati of Nachana has a simple explanation for why people should vote for royals in Rajasthan: they have no need for your money.

“When the late His Highness ran for elections,” said Singh, referring to the Raghunath Singh Bahadar, the Maharawal of Jaisalmer who was a Member of Parliament from Barmer in the 1950s, “there was no need to campaign. The late His Highness never went into Barmer to ask for votes. He sat here and he got votes. Why? Because people knew — what is he going to take from you? What can he take from you? He’s only going to give things to you.”

A rajkumar from the royal family of Jaisalmer, Singh — like many of his fellow royals — now runs a heritage hotel in an old family haveli in the shadow of the Golden Fort that their family once commanded. His brother, Vikram Singh — also like many fellow royals — is in politics.

Every election in Rajasthan features stock stories about royals who have jumped into the fray, and this one is no exception. To people sitting out in the metros, royal politicians seem like oddities from another age, outdated elites whose lives we can gawk at and then forget. To others, they might seem simply opportunistic, blatantly attempting to cash in on their distinguished lineage.

But for the 33-year-old Kesari Singh Bhati, the question is an existential one.

“See, what we Rajputs do is fight for the country. It’s what we’ve always done, it’s how we’re born,” he said. “But today you can’t take up a sword and go to battle. So how else to you take up this inclination to lead the people, this thing you are born with?”

And, in his telling, it’s not simply a petulant identity crisis for young Rajputs who don’t know what other profession to get into. Traditional structures and caste hierarchy still holds firm in Rajasthan, as its politics demonstrates, so Singh’s family will continue to be expected to rule, in a sense.

“People will still expect things from you, demand things from you. But then today if I go to the collector or the police, why will they listen to me? People only listen to you when you have power,” he said. “In my grandfather’s time, all these departments were run out of this house. The collector would sit there, in our courtyard, and he would sit at my grandfather’s feet.”

The reputation and lineage helps, naturally, as does the money. Singh says his forefathers left them with a large enough inheritance that he never has to move a limb in his lifetime. But it’s not exactly the Michael Bloomberg argument. Bloomberg, a billionaire, ran for New York Mayor partly on the basis of a campaign that claimed he wouldn’t be swayed by vested interests because he didn’t need anyone else’s money.

“Those are still businessmen. See, there is a Mukesh Ambani who sits until 3am holding meetings, because that is his drive. But that’s the difference between him and us Rajputs. At midnight, I simply cannot sit here and talk about dandha.”

Instead, Shakti Singh says, consider Kota where ‘Maharao’ Ijyraj Singh is hoping to retain the Lok Sabha seat he won in 2009. “His Highness has so much money, so much land, that he can’t even think of such small things as asking for bribes. For him money is immaterial. So much that if he asked someone for Rs 5 or Rs 5,000 or Rs 5 lakh or Rs 5 crore, they will reply, you are asking for money? You?”

Singh is even willing to bet on this. “Go to Kota, and if you find someone saying that His Highness of Kota has asked someone for money, whether it is Rs 1,000  or Rs 1 lakh, I won’t be sitting here. I’ll cross the border and go to Pakistan,” he said. “This much I believe in my qaum, and if you find any hand anywhere in anything wrong, I’ll leave. I wouldn’t even want to live in India then.”