Bharatiya Janata Party
|Bharatiya Janata Party
भारतीय जनता पार्टी
|Parliamentary Chairperson||L. K. Advani|
|Leader in Lok Sabha||Sushma Swaraj
(Leader of Opposition)
|Leader in Rajya Sabha||Arun Jaitley
(Leader of Opposition)
|Prime-ministerial candidate||Narendra Modi|
|Former Prime Minster(s)||Atal Bihari Vajpayee|
|Preceded by||Bharatiya Jana Sangh|
|Headquarters||11 Ashoka Road,
New Delhi 110001
|Student wing||Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad|
|Youth wing||Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha|
|Women's wing||BJP Mahila Morcha|
|Peasant's wing||BJP Kisan Morcha|
Hindu nationalism (Hindutva)
|ECI Status||National Party|
|Alliance||National Democratic Alliance (NDA)|
|Seats in Lok Sabha|
|Seats in Rajya Sabha|
|Politics of India
The Bharatiya Janata Party ( pronunciation (help·info); "Indian People's Party"; BJP) is one of the two major parties in the Indian political system, the other being the Indian National Congress. Established in 1980, it is India's second largest political party in terms of representation in parliament and in the various state assemblies.
The BJP's roots lie in the Bharatiya Jana Sangh; formed in 1951 by Syama Prasad Mookerjee. For the 1977 general elections, the Jana Sangh merged with several parties to form the Janata Party to defeat the incumbent Congress party. Following Janata's dissolution in 1980, the rank and file of the erstwhile Jana Sangh reconvened as the Bharatiya Janata Party. Although initially unsuccessful, winning only two seats in the 1984 general election, the BJP soon grew in strength on the wave of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, and came to power in several states. Following a series of increasingly better performances at the national elections, the party was invited to form the government in 1996, albeit only for 13 days.
From 1998 to 2004, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), a coalition of several parties, formed the national government. Headed by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, it was the first non-Congress government to last a full term in office. Since its surprising defeat in the 2004 general elections, the BJP has been the principal opposition party in parliament. The party is currently directly in power in five states. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is the NDA's prime-ministerial candidate for the upcoming 2014 general elections.
The BJP designates its official ideology and central philosophy to be "integral humanism", based upon a 1965 book by Deendayal Upadhyaya. Labelled as right-wing and "Hindu nationalist", the party advocates social conservatism, self-reliance as outlined by the Swadeshi movement, and a foreign policy centred on nationalist principles. Key issues for the BJP include the abrogation of the special constitutional status to Jammu and Kashmir (Article 370), building a Ram temple in Ayodhya and the implementation of a uniform civil code for all Indians. However, the NDA government pursued none of these controversial issues and implemented a largely-neoliberal economic policy in favour of globalisation.
- 1 History
- 2 In general elections
- 3 Ideology and political positions
- 4 Party structure
- 5 The BJP in various states
- 6 List of presidents of the party
- 7 Notes and References
- 8 External links
The Bharatiya Jana Sangh, popularly known as the Jana Sangh, was founded by Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee in 1951 in response to the secular politics of the dominant Congress party. Widely regarded to be the political arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS),4 a voluntary Hindu nationalist organisation, its aims included the protection of India's "Hindu" cultural identity, and what it perceived to be the appeasement of Muslims and Pakistan by the Congress and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.5
The first major campaign of the Jana Sangh was an agitation demanding the complete integration of Jammu and Kashmir into India. Mookerjee was arrested for violating orders preventing him from leading the protest in Kashmir, and died in jail a few months later, of a heart attack. The leadership of the organization devolved onto Deendayal Upadhyaya, and eventually next-generation leaders such as Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L. K. Advani. However, the vast majority of the party workers, including Upadhyaya, were still adherents of the RSS. Despite the momentum gained through the Kashmir agitation, the Jana Sangh won just three Lok Sabha seats in the first general elections in 1952. It maintained a minor presence in parliament until 1967. During this period, a uniform civil code for all Indians, banning the killing of cows, and abolishing the special statues given to Jammu & Kashmir were among the main points on the party's agenda.6
After nationwide assembly elections in 1967, the party entered into a coalition with several other parties, including the Swatantra Party and the socialists, and formed governments in various states across the Hindi heartland.7 This marked the first time that the Jana Sangh had held political office, albeit within a coalition. The constraints of coalition politics also caused the shelving of the Sangh's more radical agenda.8
In 1975, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi imposed a state of emergency over the country. The Jana Sangh took part in the widespread protest that followed, and thousands of its members joined the host of other agitators in jails across the country. In 1977, the emergency was rescinded and general elections were held. The Jana Sangh merged with a host of other parties, including the Socialist part and a breakaway faction of the Congress to form the Janata Party, which contested the election with its main agenda being the defeat of Indira Gandhi.5
The Janata Party won a huge majority in 1977 and formed the government with Morarji Desai as prime minister. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who had become the leader of the Jana Sangh after Upadhyaya's death in 1967, was appointed the external affairs minister in the new government. However, disagreements over the sharing of power between the various factions of the new party plagued the Janata government, and after two and a half years in power Desai resigned from his position. This precipitated the disintegration of the Janata party. After a brief period of coalition rule, general elections were held in 1980.9
One of the new parties that emerged from the breakup of the Janata Party in 1980 was the Bharatiya Janata Party. Although technically distinct from the Jana Sangh, the bulk of its rank and file were identical to its predecessor, and Vajpayee was appointed its first president. Historian Ramachandra Guha writes that despite the factional wars within the Janata government, its period in power saw a rise in support for the RSS, marked by a wave of communal violence in the early 1980s.10 Despite this rise in support, the BJP initially moderated the Hindu nationalist stance of its predecessor, in order to gain a wider appeal. This strategy was unsuccessful, as the BJP won only two Lok Sabha seats in the elections of 1984.11 The assassination of Indira Gandhi a few months prior to the election also contributed to the low tally, as the Congress won a record number of seats.12
The failure of the moderate strategy championed by Vajpayee led to a shift in the ideology of the party toward a policy of more hardline Hindutva and Hindu fundamentalism.11 In 1984 Advani was appointed president, and under him the BJP became the political voice of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. In the early 1980s, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) had begun a campaign for the construction of a temple dedicated to the Hindu deity Rama at the site of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. The agitation was on the basis of the belief that the site was the birthplace of Rama, and that a temple once stood there that was demolished by the Mughal emperor Babur when he constructed the Babri mosque. The BJP threw its support behind this campaign, and made it a part of their election plank. On the strength of the movement the BJP won 86 Lok Sabha seats in 1989, a tally which made its support crucial to the National Front government of V. P. Singh.13
In September 1990, Advani began a "rath yatra" to Ayodhya in support of the Ram mandir movement. The riots caused by the yatra led to Advani's arrest by the government of Bihar, but a large body of 'kar sevaks' or Sangh Parivar activists nonetheless reached Ayodhya, and attempted to attack the mosque. This resulted in a pitched battle with the paramilitary forces that ended with the death of several kar sevaks. The BJP withdrew its support to the V.P. Singh government, leading to fresh elections being called. In these elections the BJP once again increased its tally of seats to 120, as well as winning a majority in the Uttar Pradesh assembly.14
On 6 December 1992, the RSS and its affiliates organised a rally involving thousands of VHP and BJP activists at the site of the mosque. Under circumstances that are not entirely clear, the rally developed into a frenzied attack that ended with the destruction of the mosque. Over the following weeks, waves of violence between Hindus and Muslims erupted all over the country, killing over 2000 people. The VHP was briefly banned by the government, and many BJP leaders, including L.K. Advani were arrested for making inflammatory speeches provoking the destruction.1516 Several prominent historians have stated that the demolition was the product of a conspiracy by the Sangh Parivar, and not merely a spontaneous act.13
A 2009 report, authored by Justice Manmohan Singh Liberhan, found that 68 people were responsible for the demolition of the mosque, mostly leaders from the BJP. Among those named were Vajpayee, Advani, and Murli Manohar Joshi. Kalyan Singh, who was the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh during the mosque's demolition, also came in for harsh criticism in the report. He was accused of posting bureaucrats and police officers who would stay silent during the mosque’s demolition in Ayodhya.17 Anju Gupta, an police officer in charge of Advani's security on the day of the demolition, appeared as a prominent witness before the commission. She stated that Advani and Joshi made provocative speeches that were a major factor in the mob's behaviour.18
In the parliamentary elections in 1996, the BJP capitalized on the communal polarization that followed the demolition to win 161 Lok Sabha seats, making it the largest party in parliament. Vajpayee was sworn in as Prime minister, but was unable to cobble together a majority in the Lok Sabha, and had to resign after 13 days.14
A coalition of regional parties had formed the government in 1996, but this grouping was short lived, and mid-term polls were held in 1998. The BJP contested the elections leading a coalition called the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which contained its existing allies like the Samata Party, the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Shiv Sena, in addition to the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and the Biju Janata Dal. Among these regional parties, the Shiv Sena was the only one which had an ideology similar to the BJP; Amartya Sen, for example, called the coalition an "ad hoc" grouping.1920 Nonetheless, with outside support provided by the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), the NDA could muster a slim majority, and Vajpayee returned as prime minister.21 However, the coalition ruptured in May 1999 when the leader of AIADMK, Jayalalitha, withdrew her support, and fresh elections were again held.
On 13 October 1999, the BJP-led NDA, this time without the AIADMK, won 303 seats in parliament and thus an outright majority. The BJP alone had its highest ever tally of 183. Vajpayee became prime minister for the third time, and Advani became the deputy prime minister and Home Minister. This NDA government lasted its full term of five years. Its policy agenda included a more aggressive stance on defence and terror as well as Neo-liberal economic policies.23
In 2001, Bangaru Laxman, then the BJP president, was filmed accepting a bribe of 100000 (equivalent to 210,000 or US$3,400 in 2014)24 to recommend the purchase of hand-held thermal imagers for the Indian Army to the Defence Ministry, in a sting operation by Tehelka journalists.2526 The BJP was forced to make him resign as party president, and he was subsequently prosecuted. In April 2012, he was sentenced to four years in prison.27
On 27 February 2002, a train carrying many Hindu pilgrims was torched outside the town of Godhra, killing 59 people. The incident was seen as an attack upon Hindus, and sparked off massive anti-Muslim riots across the state of Gujarat that lasted several weeks.28 Some estimate that the death toll was as high as 2000, while 150,000 were displaced. Rape, mutilation, and torture were also widespread. 2930 The then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and several high-ranking officials within the government have been accused of initiating and condoning the violence, as have police officers who allegedly directed the rioters and gave them lists of Muslim-owned properties.31 In April 2009, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) was appointed by the Supreme Court to investigate and expedite the Gujarat riots cases. In 2012, Modi himself was cleared of complicity in the violence by the SIT; however, BJP MLA Maya Kodnani, who later held a cabinet portfolio in the Modi government, was convicted of having orchestrated one of the riots and sentenced to 28 years imprisonment.3233 Historians studying the riots have found that there was a high level of state complicity in the incidents.343536
Vajpayee called elections in early 2004, six months ahead of schedule. The NDA's campaign was based on the slogan of "India Shining" which sought to depict the NDA government as responsible for a rapid economic transformation of the country. However, the NDA unexpectedly suffered a heavy defeat, winning only a 186 seats in the Lok Sabha, compared to the 222 of the Congress and its allies. Dr. Manmohan Singh succeeded Vajpayee as prime minister at the head of the United Progressive Alliance. Some commentators have stated that the NDA's failure to reach out to rural Indians was the explanation for its defeat; others have pointed to its "divisive" policy agenda as the reason.3738
In May 2008, the BJP won the state elections in Karnataka. This was the first time that the party had won Assembly elections in any south Indian state. However, it lost the next assembly election in 2013. In the 2009 general elections its strength in the Lok Sabha was reduced to 116 seats.
|Year||General Election||Seats Won||Change in Seat||% of votes||votes swing|
|Indian general election, 1984||8th Lok Sabha||2||2||7.74%||7.74|
|Indian general election, 1989||9th Lok Sabha||85||83||11.36||3.62|
|Indian general election, 1991||10th Lok Sabha||120||37||20.11||8.75|
|Indian general election, 1996||11th Lok Sabha||161||41||20.29||0.18|
|Indian general election, 1998||12th Lok Sabha||182||21||25.59%||5.30|
|Indian general election, 1999||13th Lok Sabha||182||0||23.75||1.84|
|Indian general election, 2004||14th Lok Sabha||138||45||22.16%||1.69|
|Indian general election, 2009||15th Lok Sabha||116||22||18.80%||3.36|
The BJP expresses a commitment to Hindutva, an ideology articulated by Hindu politician Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. The party asserts that Hindutva is merely cultural nationalism, which favours Indian heritage and culture over Westernisation. Thus, according to the BJP, Hindutva naturally extends to all Indians regardless of religion. Scholars and political analysts have, however, pointed out that Hindutva ideology as practiced by the BJP and its affiliates has largely been an attempt to redefine India in terms of its Hindu heritage, and to recast it as a Hindu country, to the exclusion of other religions, making it a Hindu nationalist party in a general sense.6394041 However, since the formation of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in 1998, the BJP has slightly moderated its stance on Hindutva, due to the presence of parties with a broader set of ideologies within the coalition.142340
The party's Hindutva ideology has been expressed in several different instances and in many of the policies it has enacted in government. The BJP supports the construction of the Ram Janmabhoomi temple in Ayodhya at the site of the Babri Mosque. The party was at the forefront of the agitation to build a temple there during the early 1990s, and this issue was its major poll plank in the 1991 general elections. However, the demolition of the mosque during a BJP rally in 1992 resulted in a backlash against the party that led to a decline in the prominence of the temple in the party's agenda.39 Hindutva was also brought to the fore in the education policy of the BJP headed NDA government, which reorganized the NCERT and tasked it with extensively revising the textbooks used in Indian schools. Various scholars have stated that this revision, especially in the case of history texts, was a covert attempt to saffronize Indian history.42434445 The NDA government also introduced "Vedic astrology" as a subject in college curricula, despite the opposition of several leading scientists.46
The BJP has long taken a position against what it calls the "pseudo-secularism" of the Congress party, instead embracing what it calls "positive secularism." Specifically, it supports the abolition of the laws that currently exist to preserve the cultural heritage of minority groups (such as Muslims), and the enactment of a uniform civil code across all religions.39 It also favours the abrogation of Article 370 from the Indian constitution, which grants a greater degree of autonomy to the state of Jammmu & Kashmir in recognition of the unusual circumstances surrounding its accession to the Indian union.640 Atal Bihari Vajpayee laid out the BJP's interpretation of Mahatma Gandhi's doctrine of Sarva Dharma Sambhava and contrasted it with what he called European secularism.47 He said that Indian secularism attempted to see all religions with equal respect, while European secularism was independent of religion, thus making Indian secularism more "positive."48
The BJP has a stated policy of opposing "illegal" migration into Indian territory from Bangladesh. The party states that this opposition is because such migration, mostly in the states of Assam and West Bengal, threatens the security, economy, and stability of the country. Several academics have pointed out that the BJP refers to Hindu migrants from Bangladesh as refugees, and reserves the term "illegal" for Muslim migrants. Michael Gillan writes that this is an attempt to use an emotive issue to mobilize Hindu sentiment in a region where the party has not been historically successful.4149
In 2013 the Supreme court of India reinstated the controversial law known as section 377, which, among other things, criminalizes homosexuality. Despite the national outcry, the BJP issued a statement supporting the verdict, stating that homosexuality was "unnatural" and therefore could not be condoned.5051
The economic policy of the BJP has changed considerably since its founding in 1980, and there remains a significant range of economic ideologies within the party. In the 1980s the BJP, like the Jana Sangh before it, reflected the thinking of the RSS and its affiliates. It supported Swadeshi, or the promotion of indigenous industries and products, and a protectionist export policy. However, it supported internal economic liberalization, while opposing the state-driven industrialization favoured by the Congress.52
However, by the time of the elections in 1996, the BJP had shifted its stance substantially away from protectionism and toward globalisation; its election manifesto recommended increasing foreign investment in "priority" sectors, while restricting it in others. When the party took power at the centre in 1998, it shifted its stance even further in favour of globalisation, and the tenure of the NDA saw an unprecedented influx of foreign companies into India. This invited criticism both from the left parties, as well as from the affiliates of the BJP like the RSS and the Swadeshi Jagran Manch. The communist parties suggested that the BJP was attempting to appease the World Bank and the United States government through its neoliberal policies. A similar view was expressed by the RSS, which stated that the BJP was not being true to its Swadeshi ideology.52 The tenure of the two NDA governments from 1998 to 2004 saw India's GDP growth increase substantially. The campaign slogan of the BJP in the 2004 elections was "India Shining," a slogan that tried to call attention to the perceived shift in the economy, and to the party's belief that the free market would bring prosperity to all sectors of society.53 However, the party suffered an unexpected defeat, with commentators stating that the NDA had been penalised for neglecting the needs of the poor and marginalized, instead focusing too much on its business and corporate allies.373854
This shift in the economic policies of the BJP has also been seen at the level of the state governments, especially in Gujarat, the state where the BJP has held power for the longest uninterrupted period. The government of Narendra Modi, which has been in power since 2002, has pursued a strongly neoliberal agenda, presented as a drive towards development.55 Its policies have included extensive privatisation of infrastructure and services, as well as a significant rollback of labour and environmental regulations. While this has invited praise from within the business community, commentators have criticised it as catering to the BJP's upper class constituency at the expense of the poor.5657
||This section possibly contains original research. (October 2013)|
The BJP is seen as supporting a strong national defence policy, which includes a modernisation of India's armed forces and a strong nuclear deterrence. It supports the full integration of Jammu and Kashmir into India by revoking its "special status" granted in the Indian constitution.
The Vajpayee government oversaw Pokhran-II - five nuclear tests in May 1998 and the tests of multiple ballistic missile systems. The Vajpayee government also ordered the Indian armed forces to take all measures to expel Pakistani infiltrators who had occupied territory in Kashmir, in what became known as the Kargil War. Although the Vajpayee government was later criticised for the intelligence failures that failed to detect Pakistani infiltration, the decisive response and success of military operations bolstered its popularity and image of toughness on national security.clarification needed After the 2001 Indian Parliament attack, Prime Minister Vajpayee ordered the mobilisation of India's armed forces along India's border with Pakistan, but tensions were later defused.
In response to the December 2001 terrorist attacks on the Indian Parliament, the BJP-led government passed the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), which significantly expanded the scope of intelligence operations and the authority of police forces to detain suspects. The measures were criticised by the Congress and other opposition parties, which criticised the law as targeting India's Muslims. As a result, a joint session of Parliament had to be called to enable the bill to pass. It was later repealed by the Congress-led government of prime minister Manmohan Singh. The BJP has continually criticised the Congress government's response to terrorist attacks perpetrated in India as being weakclarification needed and ineffectualwhy?.
The historical stance of the BJP towards foreign policy, as well as that of the Jana Sangh before it, was based on an aggressive Hindu nationalism combined with economic protectionism. Leading figures in the RSS and the BJP criticised the more conciliatory foreign policy of the Congress as running contrary to India's "militant" past. The Jana Sangh was founded with the clearly stated aim of reversing the partition of India; as a result, its official position was that the existence of Pakistan was illegitimate. This antagonism toward Pakistan remains a significant influence in the party ideology.5859 The BJP and its affiliates have also had strong opposition to India's long standing policy of non-alignment, instead advocating closeness to the United States.58
The foreign policy of the NDA government led by A. B. Vajpayee in many ways represented a radical shift away from orthodox BJP policy, while retaining some aspects of it. Contrary to RSS philosophy, the government significantly relaxed a host of protectionist measures designed to safeguard Indian industry, a move which brought severe criticism from within the Sangh Parivar.5259 Vajpayee also courted criticism from within his party by adopting a much more moderate stance with respect to Pakistan. In 1998, Vajpayee made a landmark visit to Pakistan, inaugurating the Delhi-Lahore Bus service. He also signed the Lahore Declaration, and attempt to improve relations between the two countries that had deteriorated in the aftermath of the 1998 nuclear tests. The infiltration of Pakistani soldiers and militants was discovered only a few months later, precipitating the Kargil war, which ended without any territory changing hands. Despite the war, Vajpayee displayed a willingness to engage Pakistan in dialogue, which was not well received among the BJP cadre, who criticised the government for being "weak." The hawkish faction of the BJP asserted itself at the post-Kargil Agra summit, preventing any significant deal from being reached.58
The highest authority in the party is the president, and the constitution of the BJP provides for a three-year term for that office. In recent times, both Venkaiah Naidu and LK Advani have resigned before the completion of their respective terms, due to factionalism and controversies. Rajnath Singh held the post from 2006 to 2009, when he was succeeded by Nitin Gadkari.
Working under the president are several vice-presidents, general-secretaries, treasurers and secretaries. The national executive consists of a variable number of senior party leaders from across the nation, who are the highest decision-making body in the party. At the state level, a similar structure is in place, with every state unit being led by the respective president, who also officially serves a three-year term.60
The rank-and-file leadership of BJP is largely derived from the members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its affiliates. It also maintains friendly relations and links with other Sangh Parivar organisations, such as Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Swadeshi Jagaran Manch (an organisation promoting economic protectionism).
Other groups directly affiliated with the RSS include the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), which is the students' wing of the RSS, the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, their farmers' division, the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, which is their labour union, and the Akhil Bharatiya Adhivakta Parishad, their Advocate/lawyer's Association.61
BJP also maintains the BJP Mahila Morcha, which is its women's division, the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, its youth wing, the BJP Minority Morcha, its Minority division and many other similar organisations, including the BJP Legal & Legislative Cell.
As of December 2013, the BJP has a majority of assembly seats in five states: (Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Goa). In two other states — Punjab and Nagaland — it shares power with other political parties of the NDA coalition. The BJP has previously ruled Uttar Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, as well as Maharashtra, Odisha, and Jharkhand as part of coalition governments.
- Dr. Raman Singh - Chhattisgarh
- Manohar Parrikar - Goa
- Narendra Modi - Gujarat
- Shivraj Singh Chauhan - Madhya Pradesh
- Vasundhara Raje -Rajasthan
- Parkash Singh Badal (Shiromani Akali Dal) - Punjab62
- Neiphiu Rio (Nagaland People's Front) - Nagalandnote 1
|1||1980–86||Atal Bihari Vajpayee|
|2||1986–91||L. K. Advani||First term|
|3||1991–93||Murli Manohar Joshi|
|(2)||1993–98||L. K. Advani||Second term|
|(2)||2004–06||L. K. Advani||Third term|
|7||2006–09||Rajnath Singh||First term|
|8||2009–13||Nitin Gadkari||First term|
|(7)||2013–present||Rajnath Singh||Second term|
- There is only state level coordination between Neiphiu Rio's Party Nagaland People's Front and Bhartiya Janta Party in Nagaland. Nagaland People's Front is not part of NDA
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