Morarji Desai

Morarji Ranchhodji Desai[1] (29 February 1896 – 10 April 1995)[2] was an Indian independence activist and politician who served as the 4th Prime Minister of India between 1977 and 1979 leading the government formed by the Janata Party. During his long career in politics, he held many important posts in government such as Chief Minister of Bombay State, Home Minister, Finance Minister and 2nd Deputy Prime Minister of India.

Morarji Desai
Desai in 1978
4th Prime Minister of India
In office
24 March 1977 (1977-03-24)  28 July 1979 (1979-07-28)
President
Deputy
Preceded byIndira Gandhi
Succeeded byCharan Singh
Minister of Home Affairs
In office
1 July 1978 (1978-07-01)  24 January 1979 (1979-01-24)
Preceded byCharan Singh
Succeeded byHirubhai M. Patel
2nd Deputy Prime Minister of India
In office
13 March 1967 (1967-03-13)  16 July 1969 (1969-07-16)
Prime MinisterIndira Gandhi
Preceded bySardar Vallabhbhai Patel
Succeeded by
Minister of Finance
In office
13 March 1967 (1967-03-13)  16 July 1969 (1969-07-16)
Prime MinisterIndira Gandhi
Preceded bySachindra Chaudhuri
Succeeded byIndira Gandhi
In office
13 March 1958 (1958-03-13)  29 August 1963 (1963-08-29)
Prime MinisterJawaharlal Nehru
Preceded byJawaharlal Nehru
Succeeded byT. T. Krishnamachari
2nd Chief Minister of Bombay State
In office
21 April 1952 (1952-04-21)  31 October 1956 (1956-10-31)
Governor
Preceded byB. G. Kher
Succeeded byYashwantrao Chavan
Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha
In office
1957 (1957)–1980 (1980)
ConstituencySurat
Personal details
Born
Morarji Ranchhodji Desai

(1896-02-29)29 February 1896
Bhadeli, Bulsar district, Bombay Presidency, British India
(present-day Valsad district, Gujarat, India)
Died10 April 1995(1995-04-10) (aged 99)
Bombay, Maharashtra, India
NationalityIndian
Political partyJanata Party
(1977 – 1988)
Other political
affiliations
Spouse(s)
Gujraben Desai
(m. 1911)
Alma materUniversity of Mumbai
Profession
AwardsBharat Ratna (1991)
Nishan-e-Pakistan (1990)
Signature

Following the passing of Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, Desai was a strong contender for the position of Prime Minister, only to be defeated by Indira Gandhi in 1966. He was appointed as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance in Indira Gandhi's cabinet, until 1969. He resigned from the Congress during the split of 1969, and joined the INC (O). After the controversial emergency was lifted in 1977, the political parties of the opposition fought together against the Congress, under the umbrella of the Janata Party, and won the 1977 election. Desai was elected Prime Minister, and became the first non-Congress Prime Minister of India.

On the international scene, Desai holds international fame for his peace activism and created efforts to initiate peace between two rival South Asian states, Pakistan and India.[3] After India's first nuclear test in 1974, Desai helped restore friendly relations with China and Pakistan, and vowed to avoid armed conflict such as Indo-Pakistani war of 1971. He was honoured with the highest civilian award of Pakistan, the Nishan-e-Pakistan on 19 May 1990.

He is the oldest person to hold the office of prime minister, at the age of 81, in the history of Indian politics.[4] He subsequently retired from all political posts, but continued to campaign for the Janata Party in 1980. He was conferred with India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna. He died at the age of 99 in 1995.