Rafi Ahmed Kidwai, who stood as an answer to the big question ‘Who was next to Nehru for the post of Prime Minister of India?’, was born to Imtiaz Ali Kidwai and Rashi-ul-Nisa, in Masouli village of Barabanki district of Uttar Pradesh on 18 February 1894. Rafi lost his mother at the age of ten and was brought up by his uncle Inayat Ali, from whom he inherited the Anti-British ideology.
When he was a student at the Aligarh Muslim University, he was branded as a ‘Dangerous Person’ for his open anti-British ideas. In response to the call given by Mahatma Gandhi, he left Aligarh to join the National Movement. He led the Khilafat Non-Cooperation Movement in Barabanki district. Since then, he played a vital role in the National Movement both at State level and National levels.a
Though he hailed from a Zamindari family, surprisingly and in keeping with his ideology, he gave a call for the abolition of the Zamindari system. Hopeful of changes in the policies of the Indian National Congress, he agreed to enter the Assembly. He won the elections held in 1935 under the leadership of Motilal Nehru and became a minister. During his tenure as a minister, Rafi Ahmed proposed several reforms. The Indian National Congress assigned to him the responsibility of organizing the Anti War Satyagraha Movement in October 1940, which he discharged successfully.
Rafi Ahemed Kidwai was arrested during that movement. He spent a total period of ten years in the Jails during the National Movement. When most of the leaders were in Jails after the Quit India Movement, Muslim League started strengthening itself. At that time, he faced the League with all his capabilities. He started a magazine ‘Quami Awaz’ to foil the divisionary tactics of the League and also wrote several articles in newspapers like the ‘National Herald’ to disseminate the secular thoughts. He had enormous respect towards the culture of integrity and civilization of India. Thus he dedicated himself to the protection of Indian culture.
He felt that, the division of India meant the division of the culture of common integrity. He held different posts in the Cabinet of Jawaharlal Nehru after 1947, when India became an Independent Nation. Rafi Ahemed Kidwai, who played an effective role both in the Government and in the Civil Society, was adored by the masses. He passed away on 24 October 1954, when he collapsed with chest pain while addressing a public meeting in Delhi.
(From THE IMMORTALS an Album of 155 Muslim Freedom Fighters authored by Syed Naseer Ahamed, published in 2014, Mobile: 9440241727.)