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Morarji Desai

Morarji Desai
  • Morarji Desai was of Gujarati origin.He was born in Bhadeli village, Bulsar district, Bombay Presidency (now in Gujarat) on 29 February 1896, the oldest of eight children. His father was a school teacher.
  • He was educated St. Busar High School and passed his matriculation examination. After graduating from the Wilson Civil Service of the then Bombay Province in 1918, he served as a Deputy Collector for twelve years.
  • Upon completing his education, he joined the civil services and took up the profile of a Deputy Collector in 1918, which he served for 12 years until 1930, when he resigned after being found guilty of being soft on Hindus during the 1927-28 riots.
  • Desai was imprisoned thrice during the freedom struggle. He became a Member of the All India Congress Committee in 1931 and was Secretary of the Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee untill 1937.
  • When the first Congress Government assumed office in 1937 Shri Desai became Minister for Revenue, Agriculture, Forest and Co-operatives in the Ministry headed by Shri B.G. Kher in the then Bombay Province.
  • Shri Desai was detained in the individual Satyagraha launched by Mahatma Gandhi, released in October, 1941 and detained again in August, 1942 at the time of the Quit India Movement. He was released in 1945.
  • After the elections to the State Assemblies in 1946, he became the Minister for Home and Revenue in Bombay.
  • After the reorganisation of the States, Shri Desai joined the Union Cabinet as Minister for Commerce and Industry on November 14, 1956. Later, he took the Finance portfolio on March 22, 1958. • His increasing popularity made him a strong contender for the post of Prime Minister, after Nehru’s death, but he lost the race to Lal Bahadur Shastri, who in turn appointed him as the Chairman of the Administrative Reform Commission
  •  The sudden death of Shastri in 1966 once again offered him the opportunity to become prime minister. However, he yet again lost, this time to Indira Gandhi in the Congress party leadership elections.
  • He was defeated by Nehru’s daughter, Indira Gandhi, in the Congress party leadership election by a big margin. Desai served as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister of India in the Indira Gandhi government until 1969 when Prime Minister Gandhi took the finance portfolio from him. At the same time, she also nationalized the fourteen largest banks in India.
  • These acts compelled Morarji Desai to resign from the Gandhi cabinet. In the subsequent split of the Congress party, Morarji joined the Indian National Congress (Organisation) faction of the party, whereas Gandhi formed a new faction called Indian National Congress (Ruling).
  • Alternatively, the two factions of Desai and Indira were called Syndicate and Indicate respectively. The 1971 general elections to the Indian parliament were won by Indira Gandhi’s faction in a landslide.
  • Morarji Desai, however, was elected as a member of the Lok Sabha or lower house of Parliament. In 1975, Indira Gandhi was convicted of electoral fraud by the Allahabad High Court, after opponents alleged she had used government civil servants and equipment during the campaign for the 1971 General Elections.
  • During the subsequent Emergency rule in 1975–77, in a massive crackdown, Desai and other opposition leaders were jailed by the Indira Gandhi government. PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA
  • During the 1977 Emergency (which began on Wednesday, June 25, 1975 and ended on Monday, March 21, 1977). 1977 general elections were held during March 16,1977 – March 20,1977.
  • Janata Party registered a landslide victory in the election and Morarji Desai became the Prime Minister
  • Desai worked to improve relations with neighbor Pakistan and restored normal relations with China, for the first time since the 1962 wa
  •  He communicated with Zia-ul-Haq and established friendly relations. Diplomatic relations were also re-established with China. His government undid many amendments made to the constitution during emergency and made it difficult for any future government to impose a national emergency.
  • However, the Janata Party coalition, was full of personal and policy friction and thus failed to achieve much owing to continuous in-wrangling and much controversy.
  • With no party in leadership of the coalition, rival groups vied to unseat Desai.
  • Since India’s first nuclear test in 1974, Desai kept India’s nuclear reactors stating “they will never be used for atomic bombs, and I will see to it if I can help it”.
  • Morarji Desai closed down much of India’s premier intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), reducing its budget and operations.
  • In 1979, Raj Narain and Charan Singh pulled out of the Janata Party, forcing Desai to resign from office and retire from politics.
  • Morarji Desai campaigned for the Janata Party in 1980 General Election as a senior politician but did not contest the election himself.
  • In retirement, he lived in Mumbai and died on 10 April 1995 at the age of 99. Desai was the world’s oldest living former head of government
  • Morarji Desai was a strict follower of Mahatma Gandhi’s principles and a moralist. He was a vegetarian “both by birth and by conviction
  • In 1911, he tied the nuptial knot with Gujraben. The couple was blessed with five children.
  • Interestingly, despite coming from a politically active household, none excepting for his great grandson Madhukeshwar Desai shared his political ambition. Madhukeshwar Desai presently serves as the National Vice-President of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, the youth wing of the BJP. AWARDS He was bestowed upon with Pakistan’s highest civilian award, Nishan-ePakistan, for his extraordinary efforts in initiating
    peace between the two rival countries. Till date he is the only Indian national ever to receive the adoration.