www.bjp.org – The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) secretly ended 40 years of Indian politics on 6 April 2020. While as an ideology it existed in the form of Jana Sangh from 1951, when it was born in the BJP guise in 1980, it genuinely tasted electoral and political victory. BJP’s 40 years should have occupied the news world at any other moment but now the focus coverage is overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic.
BJP not only totally modified Indian politics, but also did what Jana Sangh was unable to achieve despite playing a significant role in the years 1967 and 1977. On both instances, it was with the aid of Jana Sangh and RSS that non-Congress parties were able to shape state and centre-level governments.
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Sadly, Jana Sangh will never become the biggest political party in Indian politics. BJP was formed in 1980 and in just 11 years, it could accomplish this feat. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was made the Leader of Opposition in 1991. It was because of the support of Left- BJP that VP Singh was able to become the Prime Minister in 1990. In 1980, BJP secured 15 seats, in 1984, 2 and in 1990 Lok Sabha elections 89. Since 1991 to now, BJP has always been a three-digit party at Lok Sabha, retaining a presence in at least 5 to 6 seats all the time.
A change in attitude has contributed to the wealth transfer. BJP was unapologetic regarding the Hindu feeling in Indian politics. The word pseudo-secularism has emerged in the 1980s. Many forget that this word was meaningless until, during an emergency, Indira Gandhi introduced democracy and secularism in the preamble to the Indian constitution.
Two terms that even the Constituent Assembly couldn’t agree on. Nevertheless, in 1996 Vajpayee took the oath of resigning after 13 days as PM, but by 1998 BJP had emerged alone and assumed power in the form of NDA. It subsequently gained a clear majority in 2014 and 2019 by itself.
How to evaluate BJP’s last 40 years?
Since vacating power in 2004, the alliance between BJP and Hindutva was ambivalent. It became more debated in Gujarat because of demonstrations and the reaction. Throughout 2009, BJP’s results deteriorated. BJP changed the gear and picked Narendra Modi, chief minister who was already an undeclared face of deep Hindutva politics.
BJP corrected its ambivalent stance on Hindutva and strengthened its core vote around it that broke barriers in India ‘s dominant caste politics. BJP’s Hindutva for the first time subsumed several layers of OBCs and Dalits which reduced traditional parties to a hump. 2017 UP elections are the strongest example of this approach in which BJP won 300 + seats.
BJP’s second-largest achievement was having simple majority in 2014. BJP was the only party after Rajiv Gandhi in 1984 to get clear majority at Lok Sabha. In Indian politics, BJP effectively ended the bi-polarity that existed from 1996 to 2014. BJP became the latest electoral force in 2014, replacing Congress from the scene finishing with 44 seats. Congress remains in two digits, though BJP was able to crack 300 points in 2019, a feat previously accomplished by the Congress Party alone.
Renewed Commitment to Core Values:
BJP was renewing its pledge to its core values after 2019. While being deemed divisive by many political parties, BJP nevertheless did away with Article 370 in its second incarnation and put CAA into force. BJP had welcomed opposition from the street on both counts. It is a hearty lesson for political parties that political problems can be questioned from the streets, despite large numbers in Lok Sabha. Indeed, the same vigour was demonstrated when it came to the triple talaq problem. The only issue pending for BJP is Uniform Civil Code (UCC).
BJP’s greatest contribution to Indian politics has been this. Political dynasties cannot be eliminated but a family may dispute the ownership of a political party. Liberal parties in India are, sadly, dynastic in nature. Families in India are controlling party coffers that have become a modern type of crony capitalism. BJP, too, has its share of dynasties but BJP is not dominated by any single family or person.
RSS-BJP has also shown that the party is not run by a single person or family. Whether it was side-lining old Jana Sangh members or setting aside Advani for Narendra Modi, RSS-BJP has ensured a non-dynastic conservative party like BJP will remain. This is sort of an irony. Social and political autonomy lies at the core of liberal politics, and by being non-dynastic, the BJP follows the basic concept of liberalism.
Paradigm change and New Norms:
It was under BJP that India performed a second nuclear test. Vajpayee then became the PM. In the 1990s, BJP changed the time for introducing the budget in Parliament. BJP has also established the National Security Advisor office during the term of Vajpayee. It pursued an aggressive liberal economic policy kickstarted by Narsimha Rao. It reworked foreign policy by functioning with SAARC and breaking consensus on Nehruvian foreign relations. Even in defence, BJP has changed the paradigm through counter-strikes and the use of Air Force against Pakistan. This eventually also created the office of Chief of Defense Staff.
Split Wide Open:
BJP’s more involvement in politics was the divisive stance which has become the hallmark of Indian politics. Any judgment has lost support in politics and in the economy. Through the Ram Temple movement came the first moment of BJP’s rise, and the second through a heady blend of nationalism and hard Hindutva. Today, BJP dominates social media space and remains uncontested at the Core, while regional parties continue to question it. It encouraged and harnessed racial imperialism.
Today, BJP is completely dominated by Narendra Modi, whose impact on India’s politics is beyond other prime ministers. The problem is how can BJP and the RSS family cope with this when the time comes for change? My understanding is that change can see hiccups, but RSS won’t hesitate to press for it because the true power of the ‘Parivar’ lies in the primacy of organization over a person and that concept will remain uncompromising.
Formation and early days:
While the newly established BJP was theoretically different from the Jana Sangh, the majority of its rank and file remained synonymous with its predecessor, with Vajpayee becoming its first President. The historian Ramachandra Guha states that a surge of aggression between Hindus and Muslims characterized the early 1980s. The BJP originally moderated its precursor the Jana Sangh’s Hindu nationalist approach to achieve a broader reach, emphasizing its ties to the Janata Party and the Gandhian Socialism philosophy.
Which was ineffective since it won just two Lok Sabha seats in the 1984 elections. The assassination of Indira Gandhi a couple of months earlier culminated in a surge of support for the Congress that earned a unprecedented 403 seats, leading to the BJP’s low number.
Electoral Success and The National Democratic Alliance Government:
The BJP supported Hindutva (“Religious-ness”), a philosophy that aims to describe Indian society in terms of Religious ideals, and it was strongly critical of the Indian National Congress (Congress Party)’s liberal policies and practices.
The BJP started to have electoral popularity in 1989, when it capitalized on anti-Muslim sentiment by pushing for a Hindu temple to be built in a place in Ayodhya deemed holy by Hindus but then occupied by the Babri Masjid (Babur Mosque). By 1991 the BJP had expanded its electoral popularity significantly, winning 117 seats in the Lok Sabha (lower chamber of the Indian parliament) and gaining control in four states.
In 1996 polls, the BJP emerged as the biggest political faction in the Lok Sabha, and was invited to establish a coalition by the president of India. His time of office, though, was short-lived, as he was unable to achieve the plurality needed to govern in the lower house of 545 representatives. The BJP and its supporters were able to establish a coalition government as prime minister in 1998, with Vajpayee. In May of that year, Vajpayee requested nuclear weapons experiments to attract broad international criticism.
Coalition ally All India Dravidian Democratic Federation (All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazagham) removed its support after 13 months in government, and Vajpayee was forced to try a vote of confidence in the Lok Sabha, which he lost by a single vote margin.
The BJP was the leader of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), a group of more than 20 national and regional groups, contesting the 1999 parliamentary elections. The alliance won a ruling plurality, with the BJP winning 182 of the 294 seats in the coalition. Vajpayee, the chief of the alliance ‘s main faction, was elected Prime Minister once again.
While Vajpayee tried to settle the country’s ongoing dispute over the Kashmir area with Pakistan and made India a global leader in information technology , the government lost its support to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) alliance of the Congress Party in the 2004 parliamentary elections, and Vajpayee resigned from office. At the 2009 parliamentary elections the party’s share of seats in the Lok Sabha was raising from 137 to 116, when the UPA government again prevailed.
Return to Power:
However, as the Lok Sabha elections of 2014 grew closer, the fortunes of the BJP started to climb, primarily due to increasing dissatisfaction with the rule of the Congress Party. Narendra Modi, the Gujarat state ‘s long-time chief minister (head of government), was selected to lead the election campaign for the BJP, making him the nominee for prime minister for the party. The polling – conducted in April and May in many stages – gave the BJP an unprecedented victory.
The party won overall 282 seats, a clear majority in the chamber and attached 54 more to its NDA allies. Soon after the results of the election were declared, Modi was named head of party members in parliament, and he started forming a government that included not only senior BJP officials but also several party leaders aligned with the alliance. On 26 May 2014 Modi was sworn in as Prime Minister.
The BJP law included a combination of economic policies and the spread of Hindutva. On November 8, 2016, with only a few hours’ notice, 500- and 1,000-rupee banknotes were demonetized in an effort to curb “black money”—cash used for illicit activities. More than 99 percent of the banknotes were returned and replaced, indicating that even “black money” had been exchanged successfully and brought back into circulation. Nevertheless, the program broadened the income tax base by growing bank operation and promoted the usage of cashless transactions.
The Goods and Services Tax (GST) was launched in 2017, reforming sales tax collection throughout the world. While, the BJP resorted to Hindutva ideas by steps such as prohibiting the selling of cows for slaughter, a decision which the Supreme Court later reversed. The group also legislated modifications of name for other territories.
The BJP experienced major electoral defeats in late 2018. In November and December, five states conducted elections and the BJP lost in all five, including its Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh strongholds. The loss was attributed to rising living and unemployment costs and Modi’s grandiose economic growth promises remained unfulfilled.
In February 2019, a security dispute over Jammu and Kashmir that increased tensions with Pakistan to its highest point in decades, gained back some support for the group. The BJP controlled media coverage as the Lok Sabha polls came close. In a crushing win in the spring of 2019 the group returned to office and increased its presence in the legislative body.
The BJP endorsed Hindutva (“Religiousness”), a ideology aimed at defining Indian life in terms of religious values, and sharply opposed the secular policies and activities of the Indian National Congress (Congress Party).