Premiership of Morarji Desai

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Morarji Desai
Morarji Desai 1978.jpg
4th Prime Minister of India
In office
24 March 1977 – 15 July 1979
President Basappa Danappa Jatti and Neelam Sanjiva Reddy
Preceded by Indira Gandhi
Succeeded by Choudhary Charan Singh
Personal details
Born 29 February 1896
Bhadeli, Bombay Presidency, India
Died 10 April 1995(1995-04-10) (aged 99)
New Delhi, India
Political party Congress (up to 1969), Congress(O) (1969-1977), Janata Party
Occupation Civil servant, Activist
Religion Hindu

The premiership of Morarji Desai extended from 24 March 1977 to 15 July 1979. In the Indian general election, 1977 Morarji Desai led the Janata Party to victory against the Congress party. Upon taking office, Morarji Desai became the first Indian Prime Minister not belonging to the Congress party.[1]

Emergency and election victory[edit]

The Janata Party was formed by political leaders and activists of various political parties who had been united in opposing the state of emergency imposed in 1975 by then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.[1][2] After elections were called in 1977, the Janata Party was formed from the union of the Congress (O), Swatantra Party, Socialist Party of India, Bharatiya Jana Sangh and the Lok Dal. Congress defector Jagjivan Ram, Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna & Nandini Satpathy formed the Congress for Democracy and joined the Janata alliance.[3] The widespread unpopularity of Emergency rule gave Janata and its allied a landslide victory in the election.

Morarji Desai ministry[edit]

Morarji Desai ministry
Flag of India.svg
7th cabinet of the Republic of India
Date formed 24 March 1977 (1977-03-24)
Date dissolved 28 July 1979 (1979-07-28)
People and organisations
Head of government Morarji Desai
Head of state

Basappa Danappa Jatti (Acting)
(until 25 July 1977)

Neelam Sanjiva Reddy (from 25 July 1977)
Member party Janata Party (Janata alliance)
Status in legislature Majority
Opposition party Indian National Congress (Congress Alliance)
Opposition leader Yashwantrao Chavan
(1 July 1977– 11 April 1978)
C. M. Stephen (12 April 1978 – 9 July 1979)
Yashwantrao Chavan (from 10 July 1979)
Election(s) 1977
Outgoing election 1980
Legislature term(s) 2 years, 4 months and 4 days
Predecessor Second Indira Gandhi ministry
Successor Charan Singh ministry

Cabinet ministers[edit]

Portfolio Minister Took office Left office Party
Prime Minister   Morarji Desai 24 March 1977 28 July 1979 Janata Party
Deputy Prime Minister   Charan Singh January 1979 28 July 1979 Janata Party
Deputy Prime Minister   Jagjivan Ram January 1979 28 July 1979 Janata Party
Minister of Finance   Haribhai M. Patel 24 March 1977 24 January 1979 Janata Party
  Charan Singh 24 January 1979 28 July 1979 Janata Party
Minister of Home Affairs   Charan Singh 24 March 1977 1 July 1978 Janata Party
  Morarji Desai 1 July 1978 28 July 1979 Janata Party
Minister of Defence   Jagjivan Ram 24 March 1977 28 July 1979 Janata Party
Minister of External Affairs   Atal Bihari Vajpayee 24 March 1977 28 July 1979 Janata Party
Minister of Information and Broadcasting   Lal Krishna Advani 24 March 1977 28 July 1979 Janata Party
Minister of Industry   George Fernandes 24 March 1977 28 July 1979 Janata Party
Minister of Agriculture   Parkash Singh Badal 24 March 1977 20 June 1977 Akali Dal
  Surjit Singh Barnala 20 June 1977 28 July 1979 Akali Dal
Minister of Works and Housing and Supply and Rehabilitation   Sikandar Bakht 24 March 1977 28 July 1979 Janata Party

Rabi Ray was inducted in January 1979 to fill in the vacancy caused by Raj Narain's exit.

Ministers of state[edit]

Reversal of Emergency decrees[edit]

The first actions taken by the Desai government were to formally end the state of emergency and media censorship and repeal the controversial executive decrees issued during the Emergency.[1][2][5][6] The Constitution was amended to make it more difficult for any future government to declare a state of emergency; fundamental freedoms and the independence of India's judiciary was reaffirmed.[5][6] The new government also proceeded to withdraw all charges against the 25 accused in the Baroda dynamite case, which included the new Minister of Industry, George Fernandes.[6] The Minister of Railways reinstated the railway employees disciplined after the May 1974 strike.[6] The Desai government proceeded to establish inquiry commissions and tribunals to investigate allegations of corruption and human rights abuses by members of Indira Gandhi's government, political party and the police forces. Specific inquiries were instituted on Sanjay Gandhi's management of the state-owned Maruti Udyog Ltd., the activities of the former Minister of Defence Bansi Lal and the 1971 Nagarwala scandal.[6] Both Indira and her son Sanjay were charged with allegations of corruption and briefly arrested.

Economic policy[edit]

See also: Double Seven

The Janata government had lesser success in achieving economic reforms. It launched the Sixth Five-Year Plan, aiming to boost agricultural production and rural industries. Seeking to promote economic self-reliance and indigenous industries, the government required multi-national corporations to go into partnership with Indian corporations. The policy proved controversial, diminishing foreign investment and led to the high-profile exit of corporations such as Coca-Cola and IBM from India.[7] But the government was unable to address the issues of resurging inflation, fuel shortages, unemployment and poverty. The legalisation of strikes and re-empowerment of trade unions affected business efficiency and economic production.


  1. ^ a b c Kuldip Singh (1995-04-11). "OBITUARY: Morarji Desai". The Independent. Retrieved 2009-06-27. 
  2. ^ a b "The Rise of Indira Gandhi". Library of Congress Country Studies. Retrieved 2009-06-27. 
  3. ^ G. G. Mirchandani (2003). 320 Million Judges. Abhinav Publications. pp. 90–100. ISBN 81-7017-061-3. 
  4. ^ "Morarji, Charan Singh waited for each other to die: Book". The Indian Express. 2008-11-11. Retrieved 2009-06-27. 
  5. ^ a b Paul R. Brass (1994). The Politics of India Since Independence. Cambridge University Press. pp. 40–50. ISBN 978-0-521-45970-9. 
  6. ^ a b c d e G. G. Mirchandani (2003). 320 Million Judges. Abhinav Publications. pp. 176–191. ISBN 81-7017-061-3. 
  7. ^ Shashi Tharoor (2006). India: From Midnight To Millennium. Arcade Publishing. pp. 164–66. ISBN 978-1-55970-803-6.