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Published in the 16-29 Feb 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Mohammad Yunus Saleem
By Andalib Akhter

With the demise of Mohammad Yunus Saleem, former governor of Bihar and union minister, our country, in particular Muslims, have lost a trusted and honest leader of independent India. Saleem died on January 15, 2004 following a brief illness at his Delhi residence. He is survived by his wife Sajida Khatoon, two daughters who are married and settled in the United States and a son Junaid Abdul Rahman who lives in Delhi. 

Saleem was a leader who was always active both in religious as well as political fields and never compromised with his principles of simplicity and integrity. 

Yunus Saleem with Indira Gandhi

Yunus Saleem with Indira Gandhi

Yunus Saleem was born in Mahona near Lucknow in 1912. He did his High School from Church Mission School at Lucknow and earned his B.A and LLB degrees from Osmania University of Hyderabad. He practiced law at Andhra Pradesh High Court and also in the Supreme Court. In 1967 he was elected to Lok Sabha from Nalgonda constituency in Andhra Pradesh. This was Congressís first victory in a typical Communist-dominated constituency. The then prime minister Indira Gandhi inducted him into her cabinet and gave him the portfolio of Law, Justice, and Waqf. Later he was given the portfolio of Railways as well. In 1971 he contested the Lok Saba elections from Aligarh but lost. He was offered the chairmanship of Food Corporation of India, Paper Corporation and was also offered ambassadorship to Saudi Arabia but he refused all these positions as he was keen to serve the community and the country and, in his words, as a 'salaried employee' he could not do what he wanted to.

Yunus Saleem with Yasir Arafat

Yunus Saleem with Yasir Arafat

In 1974 he was elected to the Rajya Sabha from Andhra Pradesh. When the Congress Party split in the late 1970s he was member of the Parliamentary Board of Congress (Urs) and as the party got localized to Maharashtra under Sharad Pawar he joined Choudhry Charan Singh's Lok Dal. He was the Vice President Lok Dal and also a member of its parliamentary board. He played an active role in bringing all parties together and in the formation of Janta Dal. He was appointed governor of Bihar by VP Singh in 1990. Next year he fought and the elections from Katihar constituency in Bihar and entered the Lok Sabha. He returned to the fold of Congress Party in 1996 and remained in it till he died.
Yunus Saleem was a scholar of Urdu and also a poet. He was one of the forefront advocates who fought tirelessly for the demand to make Urdu the second official language. He was general secretary of the Aiwan-e-Ghalib and president of Hazrat Amir Khusro Society. His work on Diwan-e Ghalib Lughat-e-Ghalib is a thesaurus on the Diwan wherein difficult words, idioms and phrases have been explained together with illustrations of how the same words have been used by other poets. 

Yunus Saleem was a devout Muslim. He was a regular namazi and never missed Roza. He had a keen eye on Islamic jurisprudence and the religion of Islam in general and was often approached by scholars for guidance. 
Saleem wrote three books. Two have been published and the third he had just completed. The two that have been published are ĎAllah Noorus Samawaat wal ard" which is a collection and explanation of all verses of the Holy Quran which describe Allah. Allah Noorus Samawat, tome in 340 pages, provides an insight into Islamís concept of God, His functions and His divine 99 names or attributes. 

The second book Norummubeen is a collection and explanation of all the verses of the Quran which tell us who the Prophet was. His son Junaid Abdul Rehman has decided to establish "Mohammad Yunus Saleem Memorial Educational Trust" to promote research and study of the Holy Quran. 

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