Morarji Ranchhodji Desai, India's first non-Congress Prime Minister, was born on February 29, 1896, in Bhadeli village of the erstwhile state of Bombay. Besides serving as Prime Minister between 1977 and 1979, Morarji Desai held important constitutional posts such as Chief Minister of Bombay State, Home Minister, Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of India. On Morarji Desai's 124th birth anniversary, LatestLY compiles a list of interesting facts about him. Morarji Desai 124th Birth Anniversary: Five Memorable Quotes By Fourth Prime Minister of India.
- Morarji Desai served as Deputy Collector for twelve years during the British rule. In 1930, he quit the government service and joined the freedom struggle.
- Desai, who was imprisoned thrice during the freedom struggle, joined the Congress party in 1931. In 1952, he became the Chief Minister of the erstwhile state of Bombay.
- In 1967, Desai joined Indira Gandhi’s cabinet as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in charge of Finance. However, in July, 1969, Indira Gandhi took away the Finance portfolio from him.
- This did not go with Desai who resigned as Deputy Prime Minister. When the Congress split in 1969, Desai remained with the Organisation Congress.
- Morarji Desai was among the prominent opposition leaders to be jailed during the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi in 1975.
- He then fought against the Congress party electorally and helped the opposition remove the grand old party from power for the first time in the 1977 elections.
- When the Janata Party, a coalition of opposition parties, formed the government after defeating the Congress, Desai was elected Prime Minister.
- During his short stint as Prime Minister, Desai took serious efforts to improve relations between India and Pakistan. It was during Desai’s time that both countries resumed playing cricket after a gap of 17 years.
- In 1986, he was awarded highest civilian award — the Nishan-e-Pakistan — for making significant efforts to improve India-Pak relations.
In 1991, Morarji Desai was awarded the Bharat Ratna, thus becoming the only Indian to receive the highest civilian awards of both India and Pakistan. He died on 10 April 1995, months short of his 100th birthday.