In 1892 he became a member of the British House of Commons as an Irish Nationalist, being elected for South Longford.
During a long and active life, he played many parts: professor of mathematics at the Elphinstone college (1854) founder of the Rast Goftar newspaper; partner in a Parsi business firm in London (1855); prime minister of Baroda (1874); member of the Bombay legislative council (1885); M.P. for Central Finsbury (1892-1895), being the first Indian to be elected to the House of Commons; three times president of the Indian National Congress.
In 1766 he was called upon to give evidence before a committee of the House of Commons upon the affairs of Bengal.
His repugnance to public life had been strongly expressed to his father in a letter of a very early date, in which he begged that the money which a seat in the House of Commons would cost might be expended in a mode more agreeable to him.
He entered the House of Commons as Liberal member for Berwick-on-Tweed in 1885, but he was best known as a country gentleman with a taste for sport, and as amateur champion tennis-player.