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BJP Foundation Day: From 2 seats in 1984 to ruling 17 states - The story of BJP's meteoric rise

Being initially unsuccessful and winning only 2 seats in the 1984 general election, the Bharatiya Janata Party rose to one of the strongest political parties in the country. Currently, the party has governments in 17 states and 1 UT.

Shashwat Bhandari Written by: Shashwat Bhandari @ShashBhandari New Delhi Updated on: April 06, 2022 9:06 IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit
Image Source : PTI (FILE)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah

Rising from just 2 seats in Lok Sabha in 1984 general elections, to now a ruling party in 17 states and one Union Territory, the Bharatiya Janata Party is the country's largest political party in terms of representation in the national parliament and state legislatures.

The 17 states are Karnataka, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Bihar, Sikkim, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. The lone UT is Puducherry.

The BJP's origin lies in the Bharatiya Jana Sangh which was founded in 1951 by Shyama Prasad Mukherjee. After the Emergency in 1977, the Jana Sangh merged with several other parties to form the Janata Party and defeated the Congress in the general election held in the same year.

After three years in power, the Janata Party government dissolved in 1980 with the members of the erstwhile Jana Sangh reconvening to form the BJP.  The BJP was founded on 6th April, 1980 by Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani.

Being initially unsuccessful and winning only 2 seats in the 1984 general election, the Bharatiya Janata Party rose to one of the strongest political parties in the country on the back of Ram Janmabhoomi movement. 

First came to power in 1996

The BJP first came to power after the 1996 general election under the leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, but lasted only for 13 days. Even after being the single largest party, it lacked a majority in the Lok Sabha.

Again in 1998, BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee formed the government but it also lasted for a year. However, after fresh elections, NDA led by BJP and Prime Minister Vajpayee was again elected to power and this time it completed full 5-year term. This was the first non-Congress government in the country that completed full five-year term.

Though on the back of the 'India Shinning' campaign, and popular leaders Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani spearheading the campaign, the BJP in 2004 polls suffered an unexpected defeat, leading way for the Congress which once again formed the government along with alliance partners. The grand old party retained power in 2009.

BJP's landslide victory in 2014

In 2014, the anti-incumbency against Congress and corruption scandals like 2G, commonwealth, and the rising popularity of the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP once again turned the tables and recorded a landslide victory in the general elections, and Narendra Modi was elected as Prime Minister. BJP won 282 seats, leading the NDA to a tally of 336 seats in the 543-seat Lok Sabha. Ever since then, under Modi and Amit Shah's leadership, the BJP's popularity has been on rising making it win elections after elections and currently rules in 17 states and 2 UTs.

In 2019 general elections and on the back of a strong election campaign by PM Modi, the BJP's victory was even bigger than 2014, as it won a whopping 301 seats. Both in 2014 and 2019, BJP was able to form the national government on its own, a sign of a strong Centre, a factor that has always helped it in taking bold decisions and aggressive foreign policy.

The official ideology of the BJP is integral humanism, first formulated by Deendayal Upadhyaya in 1965.

BJP-led NDA between 1998-2004 

The BJP-led NDA government did not pursue any controversial issues but rather focussed largely on liberal economic policy prioritising globalisation and economic growth over social welfare. However, the government under Vajpayee's leadership did conduct a nuclear test without caring of how the world will react and worrying about the sanctions.

BJP-led NDA between 2014-till date

Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP-led NDA government took some very bold steps like demonetisation, implementing GST, conducting surgical and airstrikes, banning triple talaq, abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), bringing Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 -- CAA.

BJP's key issues have also included the building of Ram Temple in Ayodhya and the implementation of a Uniform Civil Code.

On 5 August 2019, the newly re-elected BJP government revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and on 9 November 2019, the Supreme Court of India passed the final verdict in the Ayodhya dispute case handing over the disputed land to a Trust to build the Ram Mandir.

BJP origins

BJP's origins lie in the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, popularly known as the Jana Sangh, founded by Syama Prasad Mukherjee in 1951 to counter the dominant Congress party.

It was founded in collaboration with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and is widely regarded as the political arm of the RSS.

Aggressive foreign policy

After winning the 2014 general elections with an absolute majority and then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi as the party's Prime Ministerial candidate -- magnitude of which was not predicted by most opinion and exit polls -- under Modi's leadership, the BJP government followed a forward and aggressive foreign policy, the first example of it was when PM Modi invited heads of governments of all SAARC nations including the then Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif, for his swearing-in as Prime Minister. Nawaz Sharif did attend it.

BJP under Modi-Amit Shah rule has always been vocal about putting India's interests ahead, being bold on the nationalism agenda. It is reflected in the government's decisions like conducting surgical and airstrikes against terror outfits, revoking Jammu and Kashmir's special status, banning triple talaq, and bringing law such as CAA among other decisions.

Under Modi's leadership and his ever growing popularity as a world leader, BJP has been able to encash it on the ground and helped it win elections after elections, the latest example being its massive victory in recently concluded Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, where no party has been able to retain government for more than 30 years. But BJP made history and under the leadership of CM Yogi Adityanath, it won the elections.

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