In Uttar Pradesh politics he was known as a “Rafian”, that is, an associate of Rafi Ahmed Kidwai, the famous Indian nationalist Muslim. Tyagi, who was active in theKisan (peasant) movement, remained a life-long member of the Indian National Congress. He was imprisoned by the British several times. In 1921 he was tried at Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh. Mahatma Gandhi wrote four articles on the trial in the journal Young India. Mahavir Tyagi was close to, and had been a jail companion of, the leading Indian nationalist, Motilal Nehru. In 1920s Tyagi helped resolve, with the help of Maulana Mohammad Ali, a misunderstanding that had arisen between Motilal Nehru and Jawaharlal Nehru. In November 1930,two Nepali activists, Kharag Bahadur and Dhanpati Singh, were arrested at the Delhi Railway station with documents indicating the involvement of Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel, Deshbandhu Gupta, Mahavir Tyagi and some other Congress leaders in efforts to alienate the Gurkha soldiers from the British Indian Army.
While he himself adhered to Gandhian non-violence, he had close contacts even among the “revolutionaries”, that is those who were not opposed to using violent means to overthrow the imperial state. These included Sachindra Nath Sanyal, Prem Kishan Khanna and Vishnu Sharan Dublish. When riots broke out in the Indian subcontinent after its partition in 1947, Tyagi, taking inspiration from Gandhi, staked his own life to help save Muslims in his home state and to bring peace. Later Mahavir Tyagi became Minister for Defence Organisation (1953-57). General B M Kaul records in his“The Untold Story” that as Minister of Defence Organisation, Tyagi opposed policy proposals involving draconian measures in the tribal areas of India’s North-East. Tyagi also gave instructions for recruitment of Muslims in large numbers in the Indian Army. The proportion of Muslims in the Army had fallen after Partition of India in 1947.
A collection by Chetan.