List of Presidents of the Bharatiya Janata Party
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is one of two major parties in the Indian political system, along with the Indian National Congress. As of 2018[update], it is the country's largest political party in terms of representation in the national parliament and state assemblies. According to the party, in 2015 it had over 100 million members. The BJP is a right-wing party, and its policy has historically reflected Hindu nationalist positions. It has close ideological and organisational ties to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a right-wing Hindu nationalist volunteer organisation.
The BJP's origins lie in the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, formed in 1951 by Syama Prasad Mukherjee. In 1977, the Jana Sangh merged with several other parties to form the Janata Party, which dissolved three years later, after which the members of the erstwhile Jana Sangh reconvened to form the BJP. The party won only two seats in the 1984 Indian parliamentary election, but grew in strength on the back of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, which was agitating to build a temple to the Hindu deity Rama at the site of the Babri mosque. The National Democratic Alliance, led by the BJP, has held power in India on four occasions, including short-lived governments after elections in 1996 and 1998, a full five-year term between 1999 and 2003, and the current Indian government, which has held power since 2014.
The President of the BJP is the highest authority within the party, and fills a number of roles, including chairing meetings of the National Executive of the party and appointing the presidents of party subsidiaries, such its youth wing and farmer's wing. Any candidate for the presidency needs to have been a member of the party for at least 15 years. The President is nominally elected by an electoral college composed of members drawn from the party's National and State councils, but in practice is a consensus choice of senior members of the party. The term of the President is three years long, and individuals may not serve more than two consecutive terms. The President usually does not also hold a post within a government, and party chiefs have resigned the position to assume posts in Cabinet.
After the party's foundation in 1980, Atal Bihari Vajpayee became its first president. He later became the Prime Minister of India, the only BJP President to serve in that position to date. In 1986, Lal Krishna Advani was sworn in as the party president and has been the longest serving president over three different periods. A total of ten people have served as the president of the BJP, including Rajnath Singh who has also served two terms. Amit Shah became the party president on 9 July 2014, and is incumbent as of June 2018.
List of party presidents
|1||1980–1986||Atal Bihari Vajpayee||Vajpayee became the first President of the BJP upon its formation in 1980. Under him the BJP projected itself as a centrist party that had moved away from the strident politics of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh. Vajpayee, often seen as the moderate face of the BJP, later became the first Prime Minister of India not from the Indian National Congress to serve a full term.|||
|2||1986–1991||L. K. Advani||Advani succeeded Atal Bihari Vajpayee as President in 1986, an event usually associated with a shift in the BJP's ideology towards hardline Hindutva, exemplified by the Ram Rath Yatra led by Advani in 1990 as part of an effort to generate electoral support by appealing to Hindu nationalism. He had served as the President of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh in 1973.|||
|3||1991–1993||Murli Manohar Joshi||BJP ideologue Joshi had been affiliated with the Rashtriya Svayamsevak Sangh nearly fifty years before he became BJP President in 1991. As with his predecessor L. K. Advani, he played a large role in the Ram Janmabhoomi agitation. He later served as a cabinet minister in the governments headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. During his Presidency, the BJP became the principal opposition party for the first time.|||
|(2)||1993–1998||L. K. Advani||Advani had been a member of the RSS for fifty years when he took office for the second time. His aggressive campaigning helped the BJP became the largest party in the lower house of the Indian Parliament after elections in 1996. Though Atal Bihari Vajpayee became Prime Minister, Advani was seen as the power within the party, and later served as Deputy Prime Minister.|||
|4||1998–2000||–||Kushabhau Thakre||Thakre had been associated with the RSS since 1942. He was not well known outside the BJP when he became the President in 1998, a few months after the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government took office. During his tenure the BJP reduced its emphasis on Hindutva, such as its demand for abrogating Article 370 of the Indian constitution, to accommodate the views of a large coalition.|||
|5||2000–2001||Bangaru Laxman||Laxman, an RSS member of long standing, became the first Dalit President of the BJP in 2000. A year later a sting operation by Tehelka magazine showed him accepting a bribe, after which Laxman resigned immediately. He remained on the party's National Executive until 2012, when he was convicted for corruption and resigned.|||
|6||2001–2002||Jana Krishnamurthi||Krishnamurthi became acting President upon the resignation of Laxman, and was confirmed as President by the National Executive shortly afterwards. He resigned a year later when he became a minister in the central government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee as part of a cabinet reshuffle.|||
|7||2002–2004||Venkaiah Naidu||Naidu was elected BJP President after Jana Krishnamurthi was drafted into the Cabinet. His election was seen by commentators as an example of L. K. Advani and the orthodox Hindu-nationalist wing of the party re-asserting control. Though elected to a full term, Naidu resigned after the NDA lost the 2004 Indian general election to the United Progressive Alliance led by the Indian National Congress.|||
|(2)||2004–2005||L. K. Advani||Advani, then serving as the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha, became BJP President for the third time after Venkaiah Naidu resigned after the 2004 Indian general election. Advani continued to hold his position as leader of the opposition. Advani resigned as President in 2005, after his description of Muhammad Ali Jinnah as a secular leader caused controversy.|||
|8||2005–2009||Rajnath Singh||Singh took office as BJP President in December 2005 for the remainder of Advani's term. He was reappointed for a full term in 2006. Singh had held many positions for the RSS and the BJP, including serving as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and the President of the BJP's youth wing. He advocated a return to a Hindutva platform. Singh resigned after the NDA lost the 2009 Indian general election|||
|9||2009–2013||Nitin Gadkari||Gadkari became the youngest President of the BJP in 2009. A longtime RSS member, he had served as a minister in a coalition government in Maharashtra and as President of the BJP youth wing. He had strong support from the RSS leadership. Gadkari resigned in 2013 after a scandal related to his time as a minister and other allegations of financial impropriety.|||
|(8)||2013–2014||Rajnath Singh||Singh was elected President for his second term after Gadkari stepped down in 2013. Singh played a large role in the BJP's campaign for the 2014 Indian general election, including declaring Narendra Modi the party's Prime Ministerial candidate despite opposition from within the BJP. After the party's landslide victory, Singh resigned the party presidency to assume the position of Home Minister.|||
|10||2014–present||Amit Shah||Shah, a close confidant of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, became BJP President for the remainder of Rajnath Singh's term after the latter joined Modi's cabinet. Commentators described Shah's appointment as demonstrating Modi's control over the BJP. Shah was re-elected for a full three-year term in 2016.|||
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