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Morarji Desai Birth Anniversary: Lesser-known facts about the Former PM

Updated on: 22 February,2024 02:24 PM IST  |  Mumbai
mid-day online correspondent |

His tenure as Prime Minister from 1977 to 1979 marked a crucial period in India's political history, as he became the first non-Congress Prime Minister to lead the nation

Morarji Desai Birth Anniversary: Lesser-known facts about the Former PM

Morarji Desai

Born on February 29, 1896, former Prime Minister Morarji Desai was a key figure in defining India's political environment and government. Born in 1896 in Bhadeli, now in the Bulsar district of Gujarat, Desai's life journey is a testament to his unwavering commitment to public service and his significant contributions to the nation.


Morarji Desai Birth Anniversary: Desai's political career


Desai's political career spanned several decades, during which he held numerous key positions, including the Chief Minister of Bombay State, Finance Minister of India, and ultimately, the Prime Minister of India. His tenure as Prime Minister from 1977 to 1979 marked a crucial period in India's political history, as he became the first non-Congress Prime Minister to lead the nation.


Desai's leadership style was characterised by his integrity, simplicity, and dedication to Gandhian principles. A staunch follower of Mahatma Gandhi, he advocated for ethical governance, decentralisation of power, and grassroots development. His emphasis on self-reliance and austerity endeared him to the masses and earned him the moniker of the "Man of Cleanliness" due to his personal habits and anti-corruption stance.

During his tenure as Prime Minister, Desai implemented several significant policy reforms aimed at revitalizing the economy and promoting social welfare. His government introduced measures to curb inflation, rationalise taxes, and promote industrial growth. Desai's commitment to fiscal discipline and prudent economic management laid the groundwork for India's economic liberalisation in the subsequent decades.

Morarji Desai Birth Anniversary: Here are some interesting facts about the former PM

During his political journey, he took charge of many posts in the government starting with the Chief Ministership of Bombay State in 1952, then he was elected as India’s Minister for Commerce and Industry in the year 1956 and as a finance minister in 1958. Later on, in 1967, Desai joined Indira Gandhi’s cabinet as Deputy Prime Minister.

Morarji Desai was a loyal Congressman in his five-decade-long political career, but in 1969 he joined party dissenters against Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s rule.

In 1975, Indira Gandhi declared an Emergency after which Desai was arrested and detained. He was later released in January 1977.

In the 1977 polls, the Janata Party humbled Indira Gandhi and the Congress, with Desai being elected as the party leader. Morarji Desai then became India’s first non-Congress PM.

Desai had then assured to end poverty in 10 years and ban alcohol but his government didn’t last long. He had to resign after 28 months in office as a revolt brimmed against him in the Janata Party.

He was known for his simplicity and austere lifestyle. Morarji Desai was also a vegetarian.

Morarji Desai was awarded the Nishan-e-Pakistan, Pakistan’s highest civilian award, in 1988.

Desai attended the University of Mumbai and joined the provincial civil service of Bombay as a minor functionary in 1918. He resigned from the job in 1930 and joined Mahatma Gandhi’s civil disobedience movement.

In 1937, Morarji became the Minister for Revenue, Agriculture, Forest and Co-operatives in the first Congress Government under Chief Minister B.G. Kher in the then Bombay Province.

Morarji served as the Member of Parliament in Lok Sabha from Surat constituency from 1957 to 1980.

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