Begum Aizaz Rasul

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Begum Qudsia Aizaz Rasul (1908–2001) was an Indian politician and the only Muslim woman to be a member of the Constituent Assembly of India.

Family[edit]

Born into the princely family of Malerkotla, she was married at a young age to Nawaab Aizaz Rasul, a taluqdar (landowner) of the former princely state of Oudh.

Political career[edit]

With the enactment of the Government of India Act 1935, the couple joined the Muslim League and entered electoral politics. In the 1937 elections, she was one of the few women who successfully contested from a non-reserved seat and was elected to the U.P legislative assembly. Begum Aizaz Rasul remained a member till 1952. She held the office of the Deputy President of the Council from 1937 to 1940 and acted as the Leader of Opposition in the Council from 1950 to 1952. She was the first woman in India and the first Muslim woman in the world to reach this position. Despite her family background, she was known for her strong support for zamindari abolition.

In 1946, she was elected to the Constituent Assembly of India and was one of 28 Muslim League members who finally joined. She was the only Muslim woman in the Assembly. In 1950, the Muslim League in India dissolved and Begum Aizaz Rasul joined the Congress. She was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1952 and was a member of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly from 1969 to 1990.

Between, 1969 and 1971, she was the Minister for Social Welfare and Minorities. In 2000, she was awarded a Padma Shree for her contribution to social work.

Role in the Constituent Assembly[edit]

With the partition of India, only a handful of Muslim League members joined the Constituent Assembly of India. Begum Aizaz Rasul was elected the Deputy Leader of the Delegation and the Deputy leader of Opposition in the Constituent Legislative Assembly. When Chaudhary Khaliquzzaman, the party leader left for Pakistan, Begum Aizaz succeeded him as the leader of the Muslim League and became a member of the Minority Rights Drafting Subcommittee.

Begum Aizaz Rasul was instrumental in creating consensus amongst the Muslim leadership to voluntarily give up the demand for reserved seats for religious minorities.[1]

Sports patronage[edit]

She held the office of President of the Indian Women Hockey Federation for 20 years and was also President of the Asian Women’s Hockey Federation. The Indian Women's Hockey Cup is named after her. Maintaining a keen interest in sport, she even donned men's whites to bat for the Presidents XI vs. the Prime Minister's XI, goodwill match in 1952.

Writings[edit]

A widely traveled person, Begum Rasul was a member of Prime Minister’s Goodwill Delegation to Japan in 1953 and Indian Parliamentary Delegation to Turkey in 1955. She also took keen interest in literature and authored the book Three Weeks in Japan and contributed to various newspapers and magazines. Her autobiography is titled From Purdah to Parliament: A Muslim Woman in Indian Politics.

References[edit]