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Asaf Ali
Asaf Ali
Governor of Odisha

In office
18 July 1951 – 6 June 1952
Preceded by V. P. Menon
Succeeded by Fazal Ali

In office
21 June 1948 – 5 May 1951
Preceded by Kailash Nath Katju
Succeeded by V. P. Menon
Personal details
Born (1888-05-11)May 11, 1888
Died 1 April 1953(1953-04-01) (aged 64)
Bern, Switzerland
Nationality Indian
Spouse(s) Aruna Asaf Ali (Aruna Ganguly) (1928-1953)
Alma mater St. Stephen's College, Delhi
Occupation Indian independence activist, Freedom fighter, First Ambassador from India to USA, Railway and Transport Kingmaker

Asaf Ali (11 May 1888[1] – 1 April 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 21 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 8 April 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 defense 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 2 September 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.


  1. 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.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Indian Ambassador to the United States
Succeeded by
Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit

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