Bharatiya Janata Party
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Template:Infobox Indian Political Party The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), literally meaning Indian People's Party, created in 1980, is one of the two major national political parties in India. It projects itself as a champion of socio-religious cultural values of the country's Hindu majority, conservative social policies and strong national defense. Its constituency is strengthened by the broad umbrella of Hindu nationalist organizations, informally known as the Sangh Parivar (Family of "Sangh" organizations), where the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh play a leading role.
Since its inception, the BJP has been a prime opponent of the Indian National Congress. It has allied with regional parties to roll back the left-of-centre tendencies formerly endorsed by the Congress Party, which dominated Indian politics for four decades. The ideological rallying cry of the BJP is Hindutva, literally "Hinduness," or cultural Hindu nationalism.
BJP, in alliance with several other parties, led the Government of India between 1998 and 2004, under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani, its most senior leaders. It is the leading party within the National Democratic Alliance and leads the opposition.
The Bharatiya Jana Sangh (Indian People's Union) was founded in 1952 by Syama Prasad Mookerjee, a Bengali nationalist leader, former Union Minister and freedom-fighter. It was considered the political wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a mass public Hindu nationalist organization. But the fortunes of the young party floundered in 1953, when Mookherjee died in Kashmir in jail during a protest. BJS lasted for 24 more years, but never succeeded in winning control of any state or more than a small share of the seats of the Union Parliament. It was unable to challenge the Indian National Congress, leader of the nation's freedom movement for a political majority, and always had to contend with lesser socialist parties for second and third places. However, the party nourished future leaders who were seasoned with tough political experiences, like the future Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
When Indira Gandhi imposed a state of emergency in 1975, postponing elections and misusing major central powers granted to her by the Constitution, BJS joined a coalition of parties in active protest. Several of its leaders were arrested, including Vajpayee. But when Gandhi called elections in 1977, the BJS invested all its political and organizational capital in merging into the new Janata Party, a unified opposition party. A mixture of socialist, regionalists, and former Congressmen, the party was united in opposition to the Emergency and Indira Gandhi. The Janata Party defeated Indira Gandhi's Congress Party in a landslide victory and formed a government under Morarji Desai's leadership. Atal Behari Vajpayee, the most senior BJS leader became Minister for External Affairs, responsible for foreign policy. His close friend and political comrade Lal Krishna Advani became the Minister for Information and Broadcasting.
The Janata Party government lasted for barely 2 years, and following its collapse, Indira Gandhi's Congress returned in a thunderous landslide victory. When the Janata Party imploded, the nucleus of the BJS reorganised themselves.
The BJP was founded in December 1980, under the direct leadership of the duumvirate of Vajpayee and Advani. In the 1984 Lok Sabha elections, where the Congress Party won a massive landslide following Indira Gandhi's assassination, the BJP obtained only 2 seats out of 543. But in the 1989 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP won 88 seats. It supported the Janata Dal-led coalition of V.P. Singh. That government also collapsed in less than two years.
In the 1991 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP became the premier opposition party, and the Congress government was a coalition one. In 1996, the BJP became the single-largest political party in Parliament, with the Congress at its lowest ever. The President of India, Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma, appointed A.B. Vajpayee as Prime Minister and the BJP worked to foster a coalition that could command a majority in the Lok Sabha. However the opponents of BJP were able to rally a majority and Vajpayee had to resign after only 13 days in power, allowing a broad centre-left coalition government to be formed instead.
The First BJP Government
Lok Sabha elections were again held in 1998, and the BJP again won the largest number of seats. This time, the BJP formed the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) with allied political parties. NDA had a slim majority, and A.B. Vajpayee returned as Prime Minister. But the coalition ruptured in May 1999, and fresh elections were again called.
On October 13 1999, the BJP-led NDA won as many as 303 seats. The BJP won an all-time high of 183. Vajpayee won his third-term as Prime Minister, and L.K. Advani became the Deputy Prime Minister and held the Home Ministry. This NDA Government lasted for its full 5 years.
The Second BJP Government (1998-2004)
Under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the new Government sent the country bursting into the new era, with the 5 nuclear tests at Pokhran, in Rajasthan in 1998, making India a new-age nuclear power with a considerable weapons arsenal and technology. The Vajpayee administration also oversaw the country's defenses during the Kargil conflict, where thousands of soldiers supplied with artillery and aircraft performed extremely dangerous assaults and operations, recovered strategic hills from Pakistani soldiers who had incurred across and occupied ground on the Indian side of the Line of Control.
The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance passed the Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act in 2002, a stringent law increasing the powers of police authorities and intelligence agencies in an effort to destroy subversive political activities and terrorism. The POTA was promulgated chiefly in response to the December 13 2001 terrorist attacks on the Union Parliament.
Vajpayee and his economic team also pushed through major privatizations of big government corporations, the Freedom of Information Act, the liberalization of trade rules, free trade, opening the skies to commercial airlines, foreign investment and ownership and developed "Special Economic Zones" where industries could enjoy special infrastructure. The government especially catered to the rising information technology industry, and lowered taxes for middle-class Indians and businesses.
Vajpayee's Golden Quadrilateral road system was developed to link the four corners of the nation with heavy, industrial roads, and improve surface transport in the country as such. His education programs boosted the enrollment of children into primary schools, expanded aid for schools and pushed new-age technologies to improve schooling.
The Vajpayee administration presided over the longest-sustained economic boom in the country's history, starting in late 2002. Record increases in agricultural and industrial production were matched by hungry middle-class consumers, and increasing foreign trade and investment. In 2004, the Government signed the South Asia Free Trade Agreement with Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, a decision intended to vastly benefit over 1.6 billion people.
Vajpayee was single-handedly responsible for three monumental efforts to build peaceful relations with Pakistan. In 1999, he rode on the Delhi-Lahore bus inaugural, and signed the Lahore Declaration with the Pakistani PM, committing India to peace. Despite the betrayal to come three months later in Kargil, Vajpayee in 2001 invited the military ruler, Pervez Musharaff to Delhi, though the summit failed with no result. And despite the terrorist attacks that froze relations for two and a half years, Vajpayee, in a stunning and emotive speech to Parliament in August 2004, spoke of his "absolute last attempt of my life" to foster peace with Pakistan, de-freezing relations and invoking praise from world leaders.
The BJP was severely discredited by the 2002 Gujarat riots, where the Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi of the BJP was accused of protecting murderous Hindu mobs and obstructing the work of police to stop the anti-Muslim violence. Many BJP activists and party members were involved in orchestrating the violence. Over 2,000 innocent people were killed and tens of thousands displaced in the carnage. Though BJP attempted to defend and justify Modi's leadership, the moderate wing of the party was embarrassed and weakened by the effects of the fiasco on the party's image and its efforts to woo Muslim voters. International reprimands followed. In 2005, BJP Chief Minister Modi was refused a US visa following an outcry by human rights activists.
After the 2004 General Election
The BJP and the NDA suffered a defeat in the general elections in 2004, and failed to muster a parliamentary majority. A.B. Vajpayee passed on the premiership to Dr. Manmohan Singh of the Congress Party, and its United Progressive Alliance.
The defeat was incomprehensible to many political analysts, who assumed that the BJP would win on the basis of Vajpayee's widespread popularity, the national economic boom and the revival of the peace process with Pakistan. Following the defeat, there was a perception amongst parts of the party cadre that the party had expected victory to come easy and thus volunteers of the organisation had not worked hard enough to canvass voters and recruit supporters, and that the political campaign of BJP had remained confined to television and radio. Independent analysts saw the defeat arising from a backlash by large classes of people who had not benefitted from the economic growth as well as a failure by the party to secure strong allies. The BJP slogan of "India Shining" and the "Feel Good Factor" boomeranged especially in economically isolated states such as Andhra Pradesh.
Faced with inter-alliance tensions, and quibbling amongst its younger, second-tier leadership, the BJP agreed to call on Lal Krishna Advani to assume the presidency and lead the party and the NDA in Parliament. Vajpayee was elected Chairman of the NDA, an honorary role but clearly indicative of his diminishing role in the future of the party.
In June 2005, Advani's presidency was questioned by some after he made comments praising founding-father of Pakistan, Mohammed Ali Jinnah as a "secular" leader. On a visit to Pakistan to transform his image from a hardliner to a peacenik in the Vajpayee mold, Advani invited a storm of criticism from the Hindu nationalist base of the party, and for several weeks lost control amidst fiery calls for his resignation. His resignation was given and retracted, and a public clarification of his comments announced.
The BJP is a conservative political organisation. It sees itself as rising to the defence of indigenous culture, and Indian religious systems which include Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism and Buddhism. To many Hindu nationalists, Bharat is a Hindu Rashtra, literally a Hindu nation.
According to BJP, this definition does not exclude Muslims, Christians, or other minorities. Hindu Rashtra is portrayed as cultural nationalism and Hinduism as the entire complex system of culture, history, faith and worship that have evolved in India over the past 5,000 years. In the political language of Hindu nationalists, all the peoples of India, their cultures and heritage are "Hindu," which literally means "inhabitant of the land of the river Sindhu," the modern-day Indus.
The BJP has been accused of being a xenophobic, racist and fascist organization by its opponents. Its supporters, on the other hand, argue that it is no more than a conservative, nationally-oriented party which does not wish to polarise the country on communal (religious) grounds.
The life and work of the BJP is seen by many as strongly influenced by the Partition of India in 1947. The partition was traumatic legacy for most religious communities in India. A massive section of Hindus and Sikhs from the areas that became Pakistan had to flee to India. During the chaos surrounding partition, over half a million Hindus and Sikhs were killed in communal riots and about two million were forced to move to India in the wake of horrendous carnage. The trauma of midnight evacuations of ancestral homes, and being forced to wade through murderous violence, chaos and confusion to despair and helplessness in a different land which became their home, has struck deep in the veins of Hindu nationalists.
Another important factor in the ideological construction of the ideology of BJP is the ongoing territorial dispute over Jammu and Kashmir and the wars of 1947-48, 1962, 1965, and 1971 and recently the 1999 Kargil War. BJP and its supporters feel India must remain vigilant against threats from Pakistan, China and elsewhere.
The BJP has often been accused of participation in religious violence and using religiously sensitive issues for political advantage. These accusations, some backed by facts, have tarnished the image of BJP in the eyes of many Indians, particularly Muslims. Many left wing journalists and observers feel that the BJP is a fascist organization with a clear anti-Muslim bias. However the BJP has promoted a number of Muslims into prominent leadership positions including Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and the late Sikandar Bakht.
BJP has certain demands and actions that are explicitly controversial, and give rise to charges of fomenting communal tensions. The Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya is probably the most important of such issues. Claims are made that Muslim invaders destroyed an ancient temple in the city of Ayodhya in medieval times, building Babri Mosque on its head.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad in the 1970s inaugurated an organized campaign to re-build the Hindu temple there, because the site is considered the birthplace of Lord Rama of the Ramayana, the epic hero-God of Hindus, the most popular incarnation of the Supreme Lord Vishnu.
For two decades, the protests were peaceful. But in the late 1980s, the issue turned more controversial than ever. The VHP began demanded a direct demolition of the mosque, and the BJP embraced the issue as its own.
The Ram temple having become a major demand of the BJP, its activists joined the ranks of protestors, and many major party rallies were held in Ayodhya. The emotional power of this issue was a primary factor in the BJP winning the 1991 state assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state of India, and shot the party to national prominence.
However on December 6 1992, emotional manipulation turned to violence as a parade of protestors burst upon the mosque and tore it down with pickaxes and shovels. The resulting country-wide orgy of anger, murder, looting and burning resulted in over 1,000 deaths. In the aftermath of the communal violence many sectors felt that the secular fabric of India was threatened. The VHP was banned and Advani and other leaders of the BJP were arrested. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi are two BJP leaders on a CBI chargesheet for the destruction. Despite the arrests, the political power of BJP continued to grow rapidly.
The rank-and-file leadership of BJP largely derives from the cadre of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which has millions of affiliates. It also maintains close links to other Sangh Parivar organisations, such as Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Swadeshi Jagran Manch (an organisation promoting consumption of domestic goods over foreign imports).
Mass organisations associated with the BJP include:
- Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (All-India Students' Council)
- Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (Indian Popular Youth Front)
- Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (India Peasants' Union)
- Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (Indian Workers' Union)
- BJP Mahila Morcha (Indian Popular Women's Front)
Outside of India, BJP followers have formed the 'Overseas Friends of BJP'.
The core agenda of BJP is inspired chiefly by Hindu nationalism. Though not in order of importance, the chief goals of BJP may be summarized as follows:
(1)The Repeal of Article 370 of the Constitution, which grants a special status to Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir and prevents Indian citizens from settling in the state, in an effort to protect its Muslim-majority.
(2)The Promulgation of a Uniform Common Civil Code, which create only one personal and civil law code for Hindus, Muslims and Christians, who enjoy the privilege of having law codes tailored to their religious culture over personal and family matters. In the minds of BJP supporters, this system creates a sense of division in the country between religious communities.
(3)A Ban on Cow Slaughter, to honor the Hindu tradition of deeming cows and most cattle as sacred, and prohibiting the consumption of beef and pork.
(4)The Ban on Religious Conversions. The BJP argues that it has become virtually impossible to distinguish forcible incidents of conversion from personal choice.
The BJP stands for strong national defense, small government and free-market economic policies, but Hindutva has been its core philosophy and identity ever since its inception. The BJP stand on economic policies saw a sudden volte face in the mid nineties from a support of swadeshi products to the embracing of free market ideas.
- Lal Krishna Advani - 2004-2005
- Venkaiah Naidu - 2002-2004
- Jana Krishnamurthy - 2001-2002
- Bangaru Laxman - 2000-2001
- Kushabhau Thakre - 1998-2000
- Lal Krishna Advani - 1993-1998
- Murli Manohar Joshi - 1991-1993
- Lal Krishna Advani - 1986 - 1991
- Atal Bihari Vajpayee - 1980-1986
- Arun Jaitley
- Sanjay Joshi - General Secretary Organisation
- Pramod Mahajan
- Ananth Kumar
- Om prakash Mathur
- Thawarchand Gehlot
- Vinay Katiyar
BJP in the various states
As of 2006, the BJP rules the Indian states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Nagaland and Orissa through its National Democratic Alliance partners. In January 2006, it also gained power in Karnataka state, when the ruling Janata Dal (Secular) governing majority fractured, with one faction aligning with the BJP to form a coalition government.
The BJP has traditionally done well and has a strong base of support in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka and Assam. It's traditional base of support is in the Hindi-speaking, northern states and other states such as Gujarat in western India where the population is relatively conservative in terms of culture and religion. However, in recent years, following greater liberalization of the economy as espoused by the policies of the Vajpayee administration (1998-2004), the BJP has also made inroads among the urban middle class outside Northern India, such as the South and Northeast, who while not as socially conservative as the party's traditional base, are generally supportive of free market policies that the party has promoted in recent years. The BJP support for free market policies is in many ways a volte face of its swadeshi cry of the early nineties.
In Andhra Pradesh BJP plays the role of a junior partner of the regional Telugu Desam Party. The history of that relationship is rather short, as the TDP prior to the NDA coming to power at the centre denounced the BJP as a communal party. TDP never formally joined the NDA government, but supported it from outside. In the 2004 Lok Sabha and state assembly elections, which were held simultaneously, the TDP-BJP combine fared badly. BJP had launched nine candidates for Lok Sabha, but none got elected. In the state assembly elections the BJP had 29 candidates, but only two (Dorababu Pendem and G. Kishan Reddy) were elected.
The history of BJP in Arunachal Pradesh is somewhat special, as the party rose to prominence through rapid parliamentary shifts. In the 1999 Lok Sabha election, BJP had contested in alliance with the Arunachal Congress. AC contested the western seat and BJP the eastern seat. Tapir Gao of BJP came second with 36.45% of the votes in the eastern seat.
On August 30 2003 the Chief Minister of the state, Gegong Apang, joined the party along with him all 41 members of the Arunachal Pradesh assembly from his United Democratic Front (including the Congress (Dolo)). Thus BJP formed the government in a North-Eastern state for the first time.
In the May 2004 Lok Sabha elections, BJP contested both seats. Khiren Rijiju got 55.95% of the votes in Arunachal West and Tapir Gao got 51% in Arunachal West. In the state assembly elections in October same year, BJP contested 39 out of the 60 seats. However, Apang and his followers had rejoined Congress shortly ahead of the elections. Nine BJP members, including Deputy Chief Minister Kameng Dolo, got elected to the assembly.
In Assam BJP used to be allied to the Asom Gana Parishad, but that link was broken ahead of the 2004 elections. BJP contested 12 out of 14 seats. In one seat it supported NDA ally JD(U) and in Kokrajhar it supported the Bodo nationalist independent candidate, Sansuma Khunggur Bwiswmuthiary. BJP won two seats.
In Bihar the BJP is allied to the Janata Dal (United). The main strength of the party is amongst upper-caste Hindus, and the alliance with JD(U) is essential for the party to garner a larger vote-base. In rural areas of Bihar, where social struggles are often intense, BJP leaders are often linked to local landlords.
List of BJP MPs in the 14th Lok Sabha
41 Hegde, Anant Kumar - Kanara (Karnataka)
42 Jain, Pusp - Pali (Rajasthan)
45 Joshi, Pralhad Venkatesh - Dharwad North (Karnataka)
46 Joshi, Kailash - Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh)
49 Kaswan, Ram Singh - Churu (Rajasthan)
52 Kaushal, Raghuvir Singh - Kota (Rajasthan)
53 Khandelwal, Vijay Kumar - Betul (Madhya Pradesh)
55 Khanna, Vinod - Gurdaspur (Punjab)
56 Khanna, Avinash Rai - Hoshiarpur (Punjab)
58 Kripalani, Srichand - Chittorgarh (Rajasthan)
60 Kusmaria, Dr. Ramkrishna - Khajuraho (Madhya Pradesh)
61 Madhwaraj, Manorama - Udupi (Karnataka)
62 Mahajan, Sumitra - Indore (Madhya Pradesh)
63 Mahajan, Y.G. - Jalgaon (Maharashtra)
64 Maharia, Subhash - Sikar (Rajasthan)
65 Maheshwari, Kiran - Udaipur (Rajasthan)
67 Malhotra, Prof. Vijay Kumar - South Delhi (Delhi)
68 Mallikarjunaiah, S. - Tumkur (Karnataka)
69 Marandi, Babu Lal - Kodarma (Jharkhand)
71 Modi, Sushil Kumar - Bhagalpur (Bihar)
72 Moghe, Krishna Murari - Khargone (Madhya Pradesh)
74 Naik, Shripad Yasso - Panaji (Goa)
75 Nath, Aditya - Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh)
78 Pandey, Dr. Laxminarayan - Mandsaur (Madhya Pradesh)
83 Pateriya, Neeta - Seoni (Madhya Pradesh)
85 Patil, Basangouda - Bijapur (Karnataka)
86 Patil, Anna Saheb M.K. - Erandol (Maharashtra)
87 Patil, Rupatai Diliprao Nilangekar - Latur (Maharashtra)
88 Patil, Digamber Bapuji - Nanded (Maharashtra)
89 Patle, Shishupal Natthu - Bhandara (Maharashtra)
92 Pradhan, Dharmendra - Deogarh (Orissa)
95 Rathod, Harisingh Nasaru - Yavatmal (Maharashtra)
96 Rawat, Bachi Singh - Almora (Uttranchal)
97 Rawat, Prof. Rasa Singh - Ajmer (Rajasthan)
99 Reddy, Karunakara G. - Bellary (Karnataka)
100 Rijiju, Kiren - Arunachal West (Arunachal Pradesh)
101 Sahu, Tarachand - Durg (Chhattisgarh)
104 Sangliana, H.T. - Bangalore North (Karnataka)
105 Sangwan, Kishan Singh - Sonepat (Haryana)
107 Shiwankar, Maha Deo Rao - Chimur (Maharashtra)
108 Shukla, Karuna - Janjgir (Chhattisgarh)
109 Siddeswara, Gowdar Mallikarjunappa - Davangere (Karnataka)
110 Sidhu, Navjot Singh - Amritsar (Punjab)
111 Singh, Ganesh - Satna (Madhya Pradesh)
113 Singh, Lakshman - Rajgarh (Madhya Pradesh)
114 Singh, Rakesh - Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh)
115 Singh, Uday - Purnea (Bihar)
116 Singh, Manvendra - Barmer (Rajasthan)
117 Singh, Vishvendra - Bharatpur (Rajasthan)
118 Singh, Vijayendra Pal - Bhilwara (Rajasthan)
119 Singh, Dr. Ram Lakhan - Bhind (Madhya Pradesh)
120 Singh, Chandrabhan Bhaiya - Damoh (Madhya Pradesh)
121 Singh, Brij Bhushan Sharan - Balrampur (Uttar Pradesh)
122 Singh, Kalyan - Bulandshahr (Uttar Pradesh)
123 Singh, Dushyant - Jhalawar (Rajasthan)
124 Singh Deo, Sangeeta Kumari - Bolangir (Orissa)
126 Srikantappa, D.C. - Chikmagalur (Karnataka)
127 Swain, M.A. Kharabela - Balasore (Orissa)
128 Thakkar, Jayaben B. - Baroda (Gujarat)
129 Tripathi, Chandramani - Rewa (Madhya Pradesh)
130 Vajpayee, Atal Bihari - Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh)
134 Vijayashankar, C.H. - Mysore (Karnataka)
136 Wagmare, Suresh Ganpatrao - Wardha (Maharashtra)
Source : Official BJP MP List
- Official site
- Hindu Vivek Kendra
- BJP vis-à-vis Hindu Resurgence Online book by Koenraad Elstde:Bharatiya Janata Party