Morarji Desai was a prominent Indian politician and freedom fighter who served as the fourth Prime Minister of India from 1977 to 1979.
He was born on February 29, 1896, in Bhadeli, a village in the Valsad district of Gujarat. Desai is known for his contributions to India's freedom struggle, his role in post-independence India, and his commitment to Gandhian principles.
In retirement, he lived in Mumbai and died on April 10, 1995 at the age of 99.
Desai was an active participant in India's freedom movement and was imprisoned several times during the struggle. He was a follower of Mahatma Gandhi and believed in non-violent resistance.
After India gained independence, Desai served as the Finance Minister of India under Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
He introduced several economic reforms during his tenure, including the introduction of the Income Tax Act and the establishment of the Planning Commission.
Desai attended the University of Mumbai and joined the provincial civil service of Bombay as a minor functionary in 1918. He resigned the job in 1930 and joined Mahatma Gandhi’s civil disobedience movement.
During the struggle for independence, he spent almost 10 years in British jails. On April 21, 1952, he was appointed as the second Chief Minister of Bombay State which he held till October 31, 1956.
Morarji became a member of All India Congress Committee in 1931 and served as the Secretary of the Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee till 1937.
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.
In 1939, the Congress ministers left office in protest against India’s participation in the World War without the consent of the people.
Morarji served as the Member of Parliament in Lok Sabha from Surat constituency from 1957 to 1980.
In 1956 he was appointed as the Minister of commerce and industry which he resigned in 1963. In March 1967 he was appointed as the Minister of Finance as well as the 2nd Deputy Prime Minister of India in the cabinet of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
He resigned in 1969 to become chairman of the opposition to Indira Gandhi and the Congress Party. On July 1, 1978, he was appointed as the Minister of Home Affairs which he served till January 24, 1979. Morarji was arrested in 1975 and detained in solitary confinement until 1977 for his political activities. He later became active in the Janata Party, which was a coalition of four smaller parties.
The Janata party achieved a surprising and overwhelming victory in the unexpected election in June 1977 after the Emergency from June 25, 1975, to March 21, 1977. Morarji Desai was unanimously selected as the Prime Minister by Janata party leaders.
As many differences arose within the Janata party after two years of political tension, Desai announced his resignation on July 15, 1979, to avoid a vote of no confidence.
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