Syed Shahabuddin was, in the 1980s, one of the most prominent and talked about Muslim personalities. Born in Ranchi (Bihar), he was educated at St. Xavier’s College in Ranchi and Law College in Patna, from which he obtained a law degree. A lawyer, university teacher, and then diplomat, he has served as an ambassador and government official. In 1977, A. B. Vajpayee, a former Jana Sanghi then Union Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Janata government, encouraged him to leave his diplomatic career and to join politics. It is in December 1985 that Shahabuddin created a major surprise by defeating the Muslim candidate of the Congress Party in the parliamentary constituency of Kishanganj (Bihar). It came as a real shock for the Congress. As a Member of Parliament (1985–1989 and 1991–1996) and as a member of the Rajya Sabha (1979–1984), he spoke out relentlessly about redressing Muslim grievances. An active member of the Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC), he indulged in inflammatory speeches in the years before the mosque’s demolition, even calling, at one point, for a boycott of India’s Republic Day (in 1987), a dangerous move, which enforced an image of disloyalty to the country. After the 1992 demolition of the Babri Masjid, he had to refrain from active politics. He has remained, however, one of the best archivists of Muslim politics in India, with his English-language monthly, Muslim India. Having joined Congress in 2004, he remained MMM (Majlis-e-Mushawarat) president until 2009.
GRAFF, Violette, 2011, “Muslims and Politics.” In India since 1950, edited by Christophe Jaffrelot, 585–611. Delhi: Yatra Books.