Bharatiya Janata Party
|Bharatiya Janata Party|
|Leader in Lok Sabha||Sushma Swaraj
(Leader of Opposition)
|Leader in Rajya Sabha||Arun Jaitley
(Leader of Opposition)
|Preceded by||Bharatiya Jana Sangh|
|Headquarters||11 Ashoka Road,
New Delhi, 110001
|Youth wing||Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha|
|Women's wing||BJP Mahila Morcha|
|Peasant's wing||Bharatiya Kisan Sangh|
|Ideology||Integral humanism (official)
|ECI Status||National Party|
|Alliance||National Democratic Alliance (NDA)|
|Seats in Lok Sabha|
|Seats in Rajya Sabha|
|This article is part of a
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The Bharatiya Janata Party ( pronunciation (help·info); translation: Indian People's Party; abbreviated 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 the parliament and in the various state assemblies.
The Bharatiya Janata Party designates its official ideology and central philosophy to be "integral humanism", based upon a 1965 book by Deendayal Upadhyaya. The party is labelled as "Hindu nationalist", and advocates social conservatism, self-reliance as outlined by the Swadeshi movement, and a foreign policy centred around key nationalist principles. The party's platform is generally considered as the right-wing of the Indian political spectrum.
The BJP led the national government along with a coalition of parties of the NDA from 1998 to 2004, with Atal Bihari Vajpayee as Prime Minister, thus making it the first non-Congress government to last a full term in office. Since its election defeat in the 2004 general elections, the BJP has been pivotal amongst the opposition parties in parliament.
Bharatiya Jana Sangh (1951-1980)
The Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS) was founded by Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee in 1951 to support the Hindu nationalist cause. The party opposed the appeasement policy of the Indian National Congress and was against any compromise in the matters of national and cultural integrity, unity and identity. It was widely regarded as the political arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
After Mookerjee's untimely death in prison in 1953, during an agitation demanding the effective integration of Jammu and Kashmir into India, the entire burden of nurturing the orphaned organisation and building it up as a nation-wide movement fell on the young shoulders of Deendayal Upadhyaya. For 15 years, he remained the outfit's general secretary and built it up. He raised a band of dedicated workers imbued with idealism and provided the entire ideological framework of the party. He groomed future political leaders like Vajpayee, Advani and others. However, the vast majority of the party workers, including Upadhyaya himself were derived from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and brought with them the patriotic fervour and discipline of the parent organisation.
The Jana Sangh won just three Lok Sabha seats in the first general elections in 1952. However, it gradually increased its strength and by 1962 had become one of the most effective opposition parties in India and seriously challenged the power of the Congress in various north Indian states. Enforcing a uniform civil code for all Indians, Barring the killing (and eating) of cows, abolishing the special statues accorded to J&K and majorly promoting usage of the Hindi language were some of the pivotal ideological key points of the party.
After 1967, The party entered into coalition with political organisations of similar ideologies and political positions and formed governments in various states such as Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and others. The party was a major part of the political agitation against the emergency (1975–77) imposed by the Indira Gandhi regime and thousands of its leaders and workers were reportedly imprisoned across India. The party along with many other political parties merged with the Janata Party in 1977 to present a united opposition to the Congress.
The Janata Party won with 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 as the external affairs minister in the new government. The Janata government did not last long, though. Morarji Desai resigned as prime minister, and the Janata party was consequently dissolved. The BJS had devoted all its political efforts to sustain the coalition and was left exhausted by the internecine wars within the Janata Party.
Bharatiya Janata Party (1980-)
In 1980, the leaders and workers of the former Bharatiya Jana Sangh, founded the Bharatiya Janata Party with Vajpayee as its first president. The BJP heavily criticised the Congress government and its policies, and while it opposed the Sikh militancy that was rising in the state of Punjab, it also blamed Indira Gandhi for biassed and corrupt politics that instigated the militancy at national expense. Sikh Leader Darasingh opines that Vajpayee thus "brought in Hindu-Sikh harmony."
The BJP was a major opponent of Operation Blue Star. The party was amongst those who strongly disliked and openly protested the violence against Sikhs in Delhi that broke out in 1984, following the assassination of prime minister Indira Gandhi by one of her Sikh bodyguards. The BJP was left with only two parliamentary seats in the 1984 elections; the party, however, had established itself in the mainstream of Indian politics, and soon began widening its structure and policies to attract young Indians throughout the nation. During this period, Vajpayee remained central within the party as its president and as the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, but increasingly hard-line Hindu nationalists began to rise within the party and define its politics.
The BJP became the political voice of the Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir Movement, which was led by activists of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the RSS, and was advocating for the construction of a temple dedicated to Lord Rama in place of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya. Many believed, and still do believe, that the site was the birthplace of the Lord, and that there was a temple long before the Babri mosque was built after the alleged demolition of the temple by Babar.They held that this qualified the site as one of the most sacred sites of Hinduism, where a temple should be reconstructed. The party under its president Lal Krishna Advani invigorated the nation with various rath yatras and succeeded in creating a popular protest amongst Hindus.
On 6 December 1992, hundreds of VHP and BJP activists broke down an orderly protest into a frenzied attack, and razed the mosque. Over the following weeks, waves of violence between Hindus and Muslims erupted all over the country, killing over 1000 people. The VHP was banned by the government, and many BJP leaders, including L.K. Advani were arrested briefly for provoking the destruction. Although widely condemned by many across the country for playing politics with sensitive issues, the BJP won the support of millions of conservative Hindus, as well as national prominence.
Victory in assembly elections of Delhi in 1993 and Gujarat and Maharashtra in March 1995, and a good performance in the elections to the Karnataka assembly in December 1994, propelled the BJP to the centrestage. During the BJP session at Mumbai in November 1995, BJP president L.K. Advani declared that Vajpayee would be the Prime Minister of India if the BJP won the next parliamentary elections scheduled for May 1996. In that election, the BJP emerged as the single largest party in the Lok Sabha and Vajpayee became Prime minister. He, however had to resign within 13 days as the BJP was unable to obtain the required majority.
In the Lok Sabha elections held in 1998 the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) obtained a simple majority. This time, the BJP (NDA) had allied with the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and the Biju Janata Dal besides its existing allies, the Samata Party, the Shiromani Akali Dal and Shiv Sena. Outside support was provided by the Telugu Desam Party (TDP). The NDA had a slim majority, and Vajpayee returned as prime minister after the 13-day stint in 1996. But 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 riding on a wave of popularity, following victory in the Kargil war and major public support for Vajpayee, won 303 seats. 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. Vajpayee and his economic team, led by Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha continued the policies initiated by the previous Congress government under P. V. Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh.
The NDA government also facillatated major privatisations of previously nationalised government corporations, the implementation of World Trade Organisation guidelines, airline deregulation, foreign investment and ownership and allowed private companies such as Mahindra World City and Reliance to build Special Economic Zones where property developers could build new cities with high-standard infrastructure to manufacture and export products.
The BJP and the NDA met with an unexpected defeat in the 2004 general elections, and failed to muster a parliamentary majority. Manmohan Singh of the Congress Party and United Progressive Alliance succeeded Vajpayee as prime minister.
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. In the 2009 general elections, BJP again faced defeat and its strength in Lok Sabha reduced to 116 seats. The unexpected defeat of BJP is attributed to bad performance of the party in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand and Andhra Pradesh.
Bharatiya Janata Party in general election
|Year||General Election||Seats Won||Change in Seat||% of votes||votes swing|
|Indian general election, 1980||7th Lok Sabha||0||0||0||0|
|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||-44||22.16%||-1.69|
|Indian general election, 2009||15th Lok Sabha||116||-22||18.80%||-3.36%|
|Indian general election, 2014||16th Lok Sabha||TBD||TBD||TBD||TBD|
Ideology and political positions
The BJP is a political party that espouses integral humanism and Hindutva, which it describes as cultural nationalism which is dedicated to a harmonious society as opposed to Hindu nationalism. It supports strong national defence policies.
The BJP expresses a commitment to Hindutva, an ideology developed by Hindu politician Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. It asserts that Hindutva is cultural nationalism, which favours India's heritage, civilisation and culture over Westernisation. While critics allege that the party is antagonistic to religious minorities, the BJP asserts that cultural nationalism naturally extends to all Indians, including Muslims and Christians.
The BJP in turn accuses the Congress party of allegedly employing so-called "pseudo-secular" political tactics that included giving preferential treatment and appeasement of Muslims and other minorities at the expense of Hindus, and promoting Western culture at the expense of India's indigenous culture. The BJP criticises Congress and other opponents for allegedly exploiting minorities and India's lower caste communities by taking their votes for granted
Atal Bihari Vajpayee considered the European concept of "secularism" inappropriate for his interpretation of Indian culture, and places it in opposition to the BJP's version of Mohandas Gandhi's doctrine of Sarva Dharma Sambhava, which the BJP considers as a traditionalised Indian form of secularism. He describes the Indian secular as follows:
- Mahatma Gandhi describes the correct attitude towards religion as 'Sarva Dharma Sambhava', equal respect to all religions. The concept of 'Sarva Dharma Sambhava' is somewhat different from European secularism, which is independent of religion ... We may say that the Indian concept of secularism is that of Sarva Dharma Sambhava ... Sarva Dharma Sambhava is not against any religion. It treats all religions with equal respect. And, therefore, it can be said that the Indian concept of secularism is more positive.
The concept of Integral Humanism has always been a pivotal element of the BJP's ideology, the party's considerably right-wing stance comprises some aspects of modern conservatism, social conservatism, progressivism and enlightened nation[clarification needed], drawing much of the party's ideology from India's ancient culture and values, a major source of guidance for the BJP. As per the party's constitution[unreliable source?], the objectives of the party are explained thus:
- "The party is pledged to build up India as a strong and prosperous nation, which is modern, progressive and enlightened in outlook and which proudly draws inspiration from India's ancient culture and values and thus is able to emerge as a great world power, playing an effective role in the community of nations for the establishment of world peace and a just international order. The Party aims at establishing a democratic state which guarantees to all citizens irrespective of caste, creed or sex, political, social and economic justice, equality of opportunity and liberty of faith and expression. The Party shall bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established and to the principles of socialism, secularism and democracy and would uphold the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India."
The BJP supports the construction of the Ram Janmabhoomi Temple in Ayodhya at the site of the Babri Mosque. It advocates banning the killing of cows since the cow is considered as one of the Hindu Gods (in line with conservative Indian belief) and promotes the teaching of Indian cultural[clarification needed] subjects in schools and colleges. During the Vajpayee government (1998-04), Education Minister Murli Manohar Joshi ordered the incorporation of Vedic astrology as a subject in college curriculum and ordered other controversial changes to history curriculums determined by the NCERT.
Some members of the BJP-led Government of Karnataka have recommended the teaching of the Hindu holy book, the Bhagavad Gita in schools. The BJP also supports banning religious conversions and generally opposes Muslim and Christian missionary activities. Although the BJP asserts that it respects the Constitution of India and secularism, some[which?] BJP leaders have called for a constitutional amendment that declares India a "Hindu Rashtra" (Hindu Nation).
On India's founding fathers, the BJP has expressly criticised India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, for his fabian socialism, pro-Muslim bias and mistakes in resolving the Kashmir dispute. The BJP has praised the role of India's first home minister Vallabhbhai Patel in unifying the country. Although the BJP officially commemorates Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, it is often criticised as a party of the Hindu upper castes.
The BJP has been affected by the various criticisms against the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which has been criticised for being anti-Muslim, fascist in nature and for encouraging communal conflict. The BJP's affinity towards the ideologies of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar has been equated with criticism of Mohandas Gandhi, and allegations against the RSS that it endorsed Gandhi's killing have also impacted the BJP. While the RSS strongly denies these allegations, it has often criticised Gandhi for appeasement of Muslims and for consenting to the partition of India. However, the BJP vehemently denies being anti-Gandhi or anti-Muslim, defends its ties with the RSS and in turn criticises its political opponents with allegations of appeasement and exploiting the votes of minorities and lower castes.
The BJP and its predecessors opposed Marxism and the socialist economic policies of the Congress party, which has ruled the Republic of India for most of its history. However, it espoused Swadeshi, or the promotion of indigenous industries and products as opposed to foreign imports and the establishment of friendly trade relations with foreign nations, thus remaining protectionist. During its tenure, the Vajpayee government continued the free-market reforms and economic liberalisation that was initiated in 1991, and 
Concurrently, the BJP-led government invested in major infrastructure development projects such as the Golden Quadrilateral network of national highways and  and introduce free trade. Despite the emergence of a burgeoning middle-class, the BJP lost the 2004 elections over criticism that it neglected the needs of India's poor in favour of Indian industrialists and mercantile classes.
Defence and terrorism
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 Indian administered 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. 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 weak[clarification needed] and ineffectual[why?].
Historically, the BJP has criticised the Congress-led governments that brought India closer to the Soviet Union and the Communist bloc, although technically non-aligned.[clarification needed] During its tenure, the Vajpayee government oversaw major improvement in Indo-U.S. relations, precipitated by the 2000 visit of U.S. President Bill Clinton to India. After the September 11th attacks, India expanded its cooperation with the United States in fighting the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, and in turn received greater investment, trade and military aid.
Although expected by most observers to take a hardline approach in foreign policy, the Vajpayee government took steps to improve relations with India's traditional rivals, Pakistan and the People's Republic of China. In 1998, Vajpayee made a landmark visit to Pakistan, inaugurating the Delhi-Lahore Bus service. Although the Lahore Declaration was signed to improve relations in the aftermath of the 1998 nuclear tests, Pakistan's infiltration into Kashmir was discovered only three months later.
After several years of hostility and tensions, Vajpayee again initiated a peace process in 2002 by inviting Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to Delhi and Agra, but talks were inconclusive. In 2003, Vajpayee renewed the peace process over Kashmir by calling a ceasefire by Indian security forces and initiating talks with Pakistan again.
The highest authority in the party is the president and the BJP constitution provides for a three-year term for that office. Recently, both Venkaiah Naidu and LK Advani resigned ahead of schedule due to factionalism and controversies. Rajnath Singh held this post from 2006 to 2009, he was succeeded by Nitin Gadkari. Beyond this, there are several Vice-Presidents, General-Secretaries, Treasurers and Secretaries. The National Executive consists of an undetermined 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.
The rank-and-file leadership of BJP is largely derived from the leading members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its millions of 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, Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, their peasants' division and the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, which is their labour union, Akhil Bharatiya Adhivakta Parishad, their Advocate/lawyer's Association.
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.
BJP in various states
As on May 2013, BJP is in power in four states (Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Goa) where the party enjoys a majority of its own. In two other states — Punjab and Nagaland — it shares power with other political parties of NDA coalition. The party was in the co-government with BJD in Orissa. BJP has earlier ruled Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Arunachal Pradesh and till recently Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka and Jharkhand.
List of current NDA Chief Ministers
The chief ministers in bold are from BJP. Rest are from parties who share power with the BJP in their states-
- Raman Singh - Chhattisgarh
- Manohar Parrikar - Goa
- Narendra Modi - Gujarat
- Shivraj Singh Chauhan - Madhya Pradesh
- Parkash Singh Badal - Punjab
- Neiphiu Rio - Nagaland
List of presidents of the party
|1980–1986||Atal Bihari Vajpayee|
|1986–1991||Lal Krishna Advani||First Term|
|1991–1993||Murli Manohar Joshi|
|1993–1998||Lal Krishna Advani||Second Term|
|2004–2006||Lal Krishna Advani||Third Term|
|2006–2009||75px||Rajnath Singh||First Term|
|2009–2013||Nitin Gadkari||First Term|
|2013 – present||75px||Rajnath Singh||Second Term|
Controversies and criticism
Tehelka fake arms deal
In 2001 then BJP president Bangaru Laxman reportedly accepted a bribe of 100,000 (US$1,700) to recommend to the Defence Ministry for supply of hand-held thermal imagers for the Indian Army, from Tehelka journalists, who, posing as arms dealers, filmed him in a fake arms deal operation. He was then forced to resign as party president, in accordance with BJP policies, and a criminal case commenced against him. In April 2012, he was sentenced to four years in jail.
Liberhan Commission findings
A 2009 report, authored by Justice Manmohan Singh Liberhan, claimed that 68 people were responsible for the demolition of the mosque in Ayodhya - mostly leaders from the BJP and a few bureaucrats. Among those named in the reports were A.B. Vajpayee, the former BJP prime minister and L.K. Advani, the party's then (2009) leader in parliament. Kalyan Singh, who was the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh during the mosque’s demolition, has also come in for harsh criticism in the report. He is accused of posting bureaucrats and police officers who would stay silent during the mosque’s demolition in Ayodhya.
Former Education Minister in NDA Government Mr. Murli Manohar Joshi has also been found culpable in the demolition in the Liberhan Commissions' Report. Anju Gupta, an Indian police officer appeared as a prosecution witness. She was in charge of Advani's security on the day of the demolition and she revealed that Advani and Joshi made inflammatory speeches.
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