Asaf Ali (May 11, 1888 – April 1, 1953) was an Indian independence fighter and noted Indian lawyer. He was the first ambassador from India to the United States. He also worked as the governor of Odisha.
Educated in the St. Stephen's College, Delhi, and called to bar from Lincoln's Inn in England, he entered the Indian independence movement and was imprisoned many times. In 1928, he married Aruna Ganguli, a marriage that raised eyebrows on the grounds of religion (Asaf Ali was a Muslim while Aruna was a Hindu) and age difference (Aruna was 22 years junior to him). He defended Shaheed Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt as a lawyer, after they threw a bomb in the Central Legislative Assembly on April 8, 1929, during the passage of a controversial ordinance. He was elected in 1935 as a member of the Central Legislative Assembly from Delhi representing the Muslim Nationalist Party. He was re-elected as a Congress candidate against a Muslim League candidate. He worked as Deputy Leader of the Congress Party in the Assembly. In 1945, Ali came to be the convenor of the INA defence team established by the Congress for the defence of the officers of the INA charged with treason later in November 1945.
He was the kingmaker in charge of the Railways and Transport in the interim Government of India from September 2, 1946 before serving as the first ambassador from India to the USA from February 1947 to mid-April, 1948. He was appointed the governor of Odisha, but he resigned from the post in May 1952 on health grounds. His last assignment was as India's minister to Switzerland, Austria and the Vatican; he died in office in Bern.
- G. N. S. Raghavan and Asaf Ali, M. Asaf Ali's Memoirs: The Emergence of Modern India (Ajanta, 1994: ISBN 81-202-0398-4), p. 36.
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Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit