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Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)

Founded in 1980, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was a reinvention of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS), the political wing of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The BJS, formed in 1951 by Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, had established itself as a right-wing Hindu nationalist party. During the Emergency years, this political outfit was dissolved and reintroduced as the BJP. The party did not fare well in the first election it contested in 1984, managing to win just 2 Lok Sabha seats.
 
However, under the leadership of veteran politicians like Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and others, the party saw a gradual rise. In 1990, L K Advani started a nationwide Ram Rath Yatra to garner support for the construction of a Ram temple at the Babri Mosque site. This rath yarta, spread across several states, is credited with shoring up a massive support base for the party. Advani was arrested in Bihar by the then Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav on the orders of the then Prime Minister V P Singh. A few other leaders were arrested as well. The yatra and the demolition of Babri Mosque that followed on December 6, 1992, further gained the party a lot of ground, especially in the Hindi belt.
 
In the 1996 general elections, the nation saw a hung Parliament, with BJP winning 162 seats, and the congress 140. The BJP formed a coalition government and Atal Bihari Vajpayee became the prime minister of the country. However, he resigned within 16 days, as he could manage to prove the support of only 200 MPs.
 
Lok Sabha elections were again held in 1998, and the BJP was again able to form a government at the Centre in alliance with several other parties; the coalition was called National Democratic Alliance (NDA). However, the government collapsed again after 18 months, as the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) withdrew its support. In the fresh elections in 1999, BJP returned to power and Atal Bihari Vajpayee was again elected the PM. This government lasted its full term of five years.
 
But the BJP lost the 2004 elections, ceding power to the Congress. The Congress, leading the United Progressive Alliance, formed a government with Manmohan Singh as the PM. The UPA government served two full terms at the Centre, until the rise of Narendra Modi as a national leader 10 years later.
 
The BJP registered a landslide victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, with Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate. These elections heralded a golden period in its political history, as the party bagged 282 LS seats, 10 more than the halfway mark by its own might. This was also the biggest defeat in history for the Congress party, whose Lok Sabha strength was reduced to just 45 seats.
 
Not only the Centre, the months that followed saw the BJP winning one state after another, and at one point the party was in power in as many as 21 states. This phase also saw the rise of many regional leaders.
 
However, the BJP’s juggernaut was halted in a way in 2018, when the party lost three crucial states – Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan – to the Congress Party.
 
The 2019 Lok Sabha elections, which it is fighting in a pre-poll alliance with a number of parties and with Amit Shah as its president, will be very crucial for the BJP, as it is seeking a second straight term in office for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Its alliance partners under the NDA umbrella include the Shiv Sena, Shiromani Akali Dal, Lok Janshakti Party, Apna Dal, Sikkim Democratic Front, Naga People's Front, Mizo National Front, and Manipur Peoples Party.
 
Among the BJP’s key leaders are Amit Shah, Narendra Modi, Sushma Swaraj, Yogi Adityanath, Arun Jaitley, L K Advani, and Rajnath Singh.

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