Birth of PM Morarji Desai - [February 29, 1896] This Day in History

29 February 1896

Birth of PM Morarji Desai

What happened?

The Sixth Prime Minister of India, Morarji Desai was born on 29th February 1896 in Gujarat.

In today’s edition of This Day in History, you can read about an important personality in Indian history for the many amendments his Government made to the Indian Constitution during the emergency. 

Morarji DesaiMorarji Desai

  • Morarji Desai was born in Bulsar, District (now known as Valsad) in Gujarat.
  • After graduating from Wilson College, Bombay (now Mumbai),  he served as the Deputy collector of Godhra. He resigned from the post in 1930.
  • After that, he became part of the Indian freedom struggle and joined the Civil Disobedience Movement against British rule.
  • Shri Desai was imprisoned thrice during the freedom struggle.

Morarji Desai’s timeline (Political Career)

Year Endeavours 
1931 Became a member of All India Congress Committee.
1937 Became the Minister of Revenue, Agriculture, Forest and Co-operatives.
1946 Became Minister of Home Affairs and  Revenue of Bombay State
1952 Became Chief Minister of Bombay State
1956 Joined the Union Cabinet as Minister for Commerce and Industry
1963 Resigned from the Union Cabinet
1967 Served as Deputy Prime Minister & Finance Minister under Indira Gandhi Govt.
1969 Joined the Indian National Congress (INC)
1975-1977 Was imprisoned during the Emergency
1977 Became the Prime Minister of India

Morarji Desai as the Finance Minister

  • With eight annual and two interim budgets, Morarji Desai is the Finance Minister who has presented the maximum number of budgets so far.

Prime Minister Morarji Desai

The Janata Party won in the general elections held in March 1977 for the sixth Lok Sabha. Desai was elected to the Lok Sabha from the Surat constituency in Gujarat. He was later unanimously elected as the leader of the Janata Party in Parliament and sworn in as the Prime Minister on March 24, 1977. Shri Desai was India’s prime minister from March 24, 1977, till July 28, 1979.

  • He was the first Indian Prime Minister who did not belong to the Indian National Congress
  • He was also the world’s oldest person to become the Prime Minister (aged 81), a record which he holds till date. 
  • He condemned Indira Gandhi’s rule as dictatorial. 
  • He tried to re-position India as a non-aligned state, countering what he saw as too close a relationship with the Soviet Union by improving links with the United States, hosting a visit from Jimmy Carter in 1978. 
  • Visiting the Soviet Union in June 1979, he expressed India’s opposition to the occupation of Afghanistan. 
  • He improved relations with China, frozen since a border dispute in 1962.
  • He worked to improve relations with the neighbour and arch-rival Pakistan.
  • His government undid many amendments made to the constitution during the emergency and made it difficult for any future government to impose a national emergency.
Also on this day

1904: Rukmini Devi, a renowned Bharat Natyam dancer, was born in a South Indian family with a tradition of culture and scholarship. She was nominated to Rajya Sabha in 1952 and introduced the Bill for the "Prevention of Cruelty to Animals".

See previous ‘This Day in History’ here.

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