The Unionist Party

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Mian Fazl-i-Hussain and Chhotu Ram laid the foundation of the Punjab National Unionist Party in 1923. It was originated by a group of rural members of the Punjab Legislative Council. These members were elected on personal prestigious position and were the big landlords and influential politicians of the Punjab. The fundamental theme of their politics was to defend the provincial interest as well as the interest of the British Raj. The group consisted of 24 Muslim landlords and 6 Hindu Jats under the leadership of Rao Bahadur Lal and the party was based on non-communal basis. The prominent Muslim landed elites were Nawab Muzafar Ali Qazilbash, Nawab Shah Nawaz Mamdot, Malik Khizar Hayat Khan Tiwana, Malik Atta Muhammad Khan Nawab of Kalabagh, Mian Ahmad Yar Khan Daultana and right hand man of Fazl-i-Hussain Sir Mohammad Zafarullah Khan. The membership was open to every community member irrespective of caste, creed, religion or color. Basically it was the fusion of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs landed gentry of the rural Punjab.

The Punjab being an agriculturists’ province, where the majority of Muslims was marginal, not more than 54%, it was difficult for any political party to form a government purely on communal basis as it was not prone to get a sufficient majority. So it had to coalesce with other members so as to form the government. As Sir Fazl-i-Husain thought a coalition would always be a weak Government, he started the Unionist Party in 1936. This was to safeguard the interests of Muslims and particularly the agriculturists’ class, which was largely Muslim. Most of the agriculturists in the Punjab were Muslim, although there were also very large landowners [who were Muslim], but barring four or five Muslim landowners, they were all indebted as well.
He started it [the Unionist Party]in 1936. Unfortunately his health had been very delicate from 1934 onwards, and when he launched it in 1936, he was a sick man. He also wanted to ensure that the party would continue and have a

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