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|May 27, 1998||
Minoo Masani dead
Minoo Masani, the veteran freedom fighter, parliamentarian and founder member of the Swatantra Party, died of old age at his home at Breach Candy House, in south Bombay on Wednesday afternoon.
He was 92, and is survived by wife and son.
The funeral will be held at Chandanwadi at 1600 hours on Thursday.
A bar-at-law from London, Masani was a former ambassador to Brazil, and a mayor of Bombay.
He was a close associate of freedom fighters from the socialist stream like Jayaprakash Narayan, Ram Manohar Lohia, Ashok Mehta, Achyut Patwardhan and Yusuf Meherally, with whom he formed the Congress Socialist Party during the freedom movement.
Masani courted imprisonment during the freedom movement and came in contact with top Congress leaders in jail. He joined the Quit India movement, after resigning his job with the Tatas.
Soon after his release from jail, Masani entered legislative politics from the Bombay Municipal Corporation. He was elected mayor in 1943.
He was also a member of the Indian Legislative Assembly, which was later converted into the Constituent Assembly. He played a role in the drafting of the Constitution, as a member of the Fundamental Rights Sub-Committee and Union Powers Committee.
An astute politician, thinker and a profilic writer, he was briefly a member of the Communist Party of India. Later, he joined the socialist movement, which he left in the post-Independence era to join the Swatantra Party founded by C Rajgopalachari in 1959.
Masani, who was initially known as the champion of a mixed economy, became an ardent advocate of a liberal economy after he joined the conservative Swatantra Party. He was first elected to the Lok Sabha as an Independent in 1957 from Ranchi in Bihar. His performance was outstanding as an MP from 1957 to 1971. He chaired the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament.
As a member of the then largest Opposition party, he often initiated the debate on the finance bill that follows the introduction of the Union Budget. Many of his speeches were published under the title Congress misrule and swatantra alternative.
As a parliamentarian, Masani often kicked up controversies. He opposed the military action to liberate Goa and the abolition of privy purses by Indira Gandhi. As editor of the quarterly magazine Freedom First, which he founded in 1952, he opposed censorship during the Emergency and sought court intervention against the censors in what came to be known as the Freedom First case.
In 1978, he was appointed chairman of the Minorities Commission during the Janata Party rule. However, he soon resigned over differences on principles and approach.
Though he started out as a friend and supporter of Jawaharlal Nehru, he later became his critic in Parliament.
Masani resigned as Swatantra Party president following its miserable performance in the 1971 general election when the Indira Gandhi wave swept the nation.
His book Our India went on to become a prescribed text book in pre-Independence India. He later founded the Leslie Sawhney programme of training for democracy and the Society for the Right to Die With Dignity. He became the centre of a storm when he campaigned for euthanesia for the terminally ill.
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