Minoo Masani

20 Nov 1905
27 May 1998
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Minocher Rustom “Minoo” Masani (20 November 1905 – 27 May 1998) was an Indian politician, a leading figure of the erstwhile Swatantra Party. Masani was a three-time Member of Parliament, representing Gujarat’s Rajkot constituency in the second, third and fourth Lok Sabha.

A Parsi, he was among the founders of the Indian Liberal Group think tank that promoted classical liberalism.

After Masani was trained as a barrister in London, he joined the freedom struggle during the 1930 civil disobedience movement.

He was arrested several times by British for his participation in Indian independence movement. He was in the Nashik jail in 1930, when Jayaprakash Narayan came in contact with him and together they launched the Congress Socialist Party in 1934 He was a close friend of Jawaharlal Nehru and was also a member of Constituent Assembly of India, representing the Indian National Congress.

He introduced the proposal for a uniform civil code to be included in the Constitution of India in 1947, which was rejected.

After Stalin’s purges and takeover of Eastern Europe, Masani moved away from Socialism and became a supporter of free market economics. Post-independence, Masani’s political convictions propelled him to support “democratic socialism” in India as it “avoided monopoly, private or public.”

His public life began in the Bombay Municipal Corporation, where he was elected as Mayor in 1943. He also became a member of the Indian Legislative Assembly.

In August 1960, he along with C. Rajagopalachari and N. G. Ranga formed the Swatantra Party, while international Communism was at its peak.

He was one of the few politicians who opposed the nationalisation of banks by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

While Swatantra was India’s single-largest opposition party in Parliament, Masani often initiated debate on finance bills and forced the Congress government to work rigorously.

A collection of his speeches was published as Congress Misrule and Swatantra Alternative.

He died, aged 92, at his home at Breach Candy in Mumbai. His funeral was held at Chandanwadi.

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