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BJP turns 37: A look at the political journey of the world’s largest party

The BJP, the largest political party in the world, was founded on April 6, 1980 with three-time former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at the helm as its president.
India TV Business Desk New Delhi April 06, 2017 15:46 IST
India TV Business Desk

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is celebrating its 37th Foundation Day today. The milestone comes within a month of its mega win in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand Assembly polls.

The BJP, the largest political party in the world, was founded on April 6, 1980 with three-time former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at the helm as its president.

In 1980, when the 7th Lok Sabha polls were held, the Janata Party, of which the BJP was a part, won just 31 of 433 seats it had contested. This massive defeat was the turning point in the political history of India when leaders including Vajpayee, LK Advani and others parted their ways from Janata Party to float a new political party – BJP.

India TV takes a look at the BJP’s history since it was founded:

In 1984, when the 8th Lok Sabha elections were held, the BJP suffered its worst defeat. It won only two seats in the 543 member Lok Sabha in the wake of the sympathy wave for the Congress following assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. 

Even Vajpayee was among several top opposition leaders who had lost in the elections. The BJP had secured one seat each from Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat.

Two years later, Lal Krishna Advani was made the party’s president. It was under his leadership the party bagged 85 seats in the 9th Lok Sabha polls held in 1989 and extended support to the VP Singh-led Janata Dal government. In 1990, Advani, then known as a firebrand Hindutva leader, embarked on a rath yatra from Somnath to Ayodhya. 

In 1991, the Janata Dal government collapsed and elections were held. At that time Murali Manohar Joshi was the party’s president. The BJP, under Joshi’s leadership, saw increase in the numbers of its lawmakers. The BJP had won 120 seats. 

In 1993, Advani was again elevated to the top post in the party. Three years later, when the polls were held, BJP emerged as the single largest party with 161 seats, enabling it to form the government. Vajpayee was sworn-in as the Prime Minister of India. However, the government couldn’t survive and failed to prove its majority on the floor of the Lower House. 

In 1998, 12th Lok Sabha polls were held, the BJP managed to improve its performance by bagging 182 seats. This time too, Vajpayee was made the head of a coalition government which lasted for just 13 months. Elections were once again held in 1999. This time, the BJP once again bagged maximum seats and formed government under Vajpayee’s leadership for five years. 

But in 2004, the party lost the polls winning 138 seats. In 2009, the BJP faced another electoral loss. Its strength was reduced 116 seats. 

Five years later, in 2014, when the 16th Lok Sabha elections were help, the BJP, under the leadership of then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi returned to power with a historic win. They party won a staggering 282 seats. This was also the maximum number of seats won by any political party in the last three decades. 

This was also for the second time in independent India that an opposition party had come to power in such a manner, the earlier being the 1977 elections which was held after the infamous Emergency era that brought Janata Party to power.