Whenever a leap year falls, the countrymen remember the Birth Anniversary of the former Prime Minister of India Morarji Desai. The nation is celebrating Morarji Desai’s 124th Birth Anniversary today. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday paid tribute to the former prime minister on this occasion, recalling his principle-based politics.
Who was Morarji Desai? And why is his birthday important?
Morarji Desai was born on February 29, 1896, in Bhadeli village. Currently, it is in the Bulsar district of Gujarat. He inherited morality from his father, a (school teacher) to follow the path of truthfulness, always worked hard and kept the moral values intact under all circumstances. He followed his father’s teachings in his entire life.
Morarji Desai cracks civil services
After graduating Morarji Desai cracked the civil service exam in 1918 and served as a Deputy Collector for 12 years. But he lost his confidence in the British administration and resigned from his job and joined the freedom movement. He was an active member of the freedom struggle and went to jail thrice during that period. He became a member of the All India Congress Committee in 1931.
Held key positions
After the independence, he remained in active politics and during his long political career, he held many key positions in government such as Chief Minister of Bombay State, Home Minister, Finance Minister and second Deputy Prime Minister of India after Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
Presented budgets 10-time
Morarji Desai holds a unique record presenting eight annual and two interim budgets in the Parliament. He has the unique distinction as a finance minister till date who has presented two Union budgets in 1964 and 1968 on February 29, which is eventually his birthday.
Indira disposed of Desai
As a politician, Morarji Desai had faced many turmoils in his career. Following the sudden death of Lal Bahadur Shastri in Tashkent, he was the hot contender to take charge as the Prime Minister of India. But the Gandhi-Nehru family had a significant influence on Indian politics, so Indira Gandhi dispossessed him. Desai had to be satisfied as the mere deputy prime minister as well as the finance minister in Indira Gandhi’s cabinet.
Desai joins Janata Party
Prime minister Indira Gandhi had imposed a national emergency (Article 352) in the country in 1975. The ground situation of the country turned hostile and topsy turvy. The freedom of the people ceased during that time. Morarji Desai, along with several top leaders, left the Congress and joined the Janata Party created by Jayaprakash Narayan in 1977. The controversial emergency was lifted after 18 months.
Congress lost the 1977 elections
The opposition leaders of that time had shown rock-like solidarity, people of the country were against Mrs Gandhi for running an almost dictatorial government. The general elections were held in 1977, and the Janata party emerged victorious after which it toppled the ruling Congress party. This was the first occasion the Congress party had tasted the bitter flavour of defeat in the parliamentary elections.
Morarji Desai first non-congress PM
Morarji Desai was elected as the 4th and the first non-Congress prime minister of India. But he stepped down as the prime minister in 1979. He was an iconic leader who spent four decades in public life without controversy. After his resignation as the prime minister, he never looked back towards active politics and lived a happy retired life. He breathed his last on April 10, 1995.
Desai celebrates birthday on Dhuleti day
Morarji Desai passed away at the ripe age of 99, but he had seen only 24 birthdays in his lifetime because he was born on February 29. The most significant thing is that he never used to celebrate his birthday on February 29. He was born on February 29, 1896, which was the next day of Holi Dhuleti day. Therefore, Morarji Desai had always celebrated his birthday on Dhuleti day.
Gets two highest civilian awards
Morarji Desai had got respect from all over the world. His efforts for spreading peace and brotherhood had got praise at the international forums. Therefore, Pakistan presented its highest civilian award the Nishan-e-Pakistan to him in 1986. After his death, the government of India conferred him with Bharat Ratna in 1991. He is the only Indian who had received the highest civilian awards from two countries.
Despite his death, he still rules in the hearts of millions of people as a man of principles. His samadhi is situated beside the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad.