Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
About Bharatiya Janata Party
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), translated into English as the “Indian People's Party”, is one of the prominent parties in India today. It is a major political party with a right-wing political position. It strongly adheres to cultural nationalism through social conservatism and integral humanism. It is the most significant member of the family of active organisations known as the 'Sangh Parivar'. The BJP was officially formed in 1980, under the political guidance and leadership of two of its most significant leaders, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L.K. Advani. Both of them were members of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS), the political wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), nationalist cultural organisation of independent India. The BJS was founded by Dr. Shyama Prasad Mookherjee in 1951, to combat the increasing political power of the Indian National Congress (INC), which was said to have initiated a number of compromises in the questions of political and cultural integrity and unity of India, such as appeasement policy for Muslims. The BJS, under the umbrella of RSS, began to grow in strength. But soon after, with Mookherjee's death, the organisation started to decline in political importance.
It was in this period that leaders like Vajpayee and Advani were groomed, who were able to take charge of the future political affairs of India. In the 1977 elections, after the Emergency was called off, the BJS merged with three other active political organisations with a socialist and regionalist approach. This coalition came to be called the Janata Party. It registered a landslide victory in the 1977 elections, and formed the government under Morarji Desai's leadership. However, with increasing internal factionalism and political chaos, the Janata Party collapsed in 1979. The Bharatiya Janata Party was formally announced in 1980, comprising members of the nucleus of Janata Party. Vajpayee was the first President of the BJP.
The BJP came to power at the Centre, by forming a coalition of parties called the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) from 1998 to 2004. The present President of the BJP is Amit Shah. The BJP is the largest political party in the Parliament. The party won 282 seats in the 2014 General Elections and the NDA got a total of 336 seats. Since 1984, it was for the first time that any party got a clear majority in the Parliament. On 26 May 2014, Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister of India. Modi is the leader of the BJP in the Lok Sabha, whereas Arun Jaitley is the leader of the party in the Rajya Sabha.
Election Symbol and its Significance
The Election Symbol of the BJP from its inception, as approved by the Election Commission of India, is the “Lotus”. The Lotus is the national flower of India. The BJP election symbol therefore has many prominent representations. Firstly, the symbol is used to indicate a national identity that the BJP strongly upholds. The BJP's political ideology is described as cultural nationalism. In other words, the BJP is adherent to cultural values of India. For example, the BJP promotes the ban on cow-slaughter as it is considered a holy animal. Again, the party seeks to uphold the cultural unity of India, by strongly criticising the European notion of ‘secularism'.
The BJP claims that the INC is a political party with a pseudo-secular ideology. It also believes that by strongly propagating a cultural nationalist approach, it is not in anyway, propagating Hindu nationalism. On the contrary, the BJP asserts that it is dedicated to the building up of a harmonious, united and integrated India, which will uphold its traditions and heritage. The objectives of the Party are outlined thus: "The party is pledged to build up India as a strong and prosperous nation, which is modern, progressive and enlightened in outlook and which proudly draws inspiration from India's ancient culture and values and thus is able to emerge as a great world power, playing an effective role in the community of nations for the establishment of world peace and a just international order.
The party aims at establishing a democratic state which guarantees to all citizens “irrespective of caste, creed or sex, political, social and economic justice, equality of opportunity and liberty of faith and expression.” In other words, the election symbol of the BJP symbolises a pan-Indian outlook, representing and respecting all sections of a united “Bharat” or India. Secondly, the lotus is a symbol of Goddess Saraswati, the Goddess of learning and education. The BJP promotes cultural education. For example, it recommends the teaching of the Bhagavad Gita in educational institutions.
National Executives of BJP
The prominent leaders of the BJP, who are also their national representatives, are the following:
- Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Senior Leader of BJP, Vajpayee has been the founder of the BJP. He was also the Prime Minister of India from 1998-2004. Presently, he is a member of the National Executive Committee and Margdarshak Mandal of BJP.
- L.K. Advani, Senior Leader of BJP-Advani was the Leader of Opposition in the 10th and 14th Lok Sabha sessions respectively. He replaced Atal Bihari Vajpayee as the President of BJP. When the NDA formed the government at the Centre in 1998, under Vajpayee, Advani was the Home Minister in his cabinet. Later he was given the post of Deputy Prime Minister of India from 2002-04. Advani has written his autobiography called “My Country My Life” which was published in 2008.
- Rajnath Singh, ex-President of BJP-Singh is currently the Union Minister of Home Affairs. He served as President of BJP twice. His first term was from 2005-2009, and second term from 2013-2014. He has been the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh as well as a Cabinet Minister at the Centre.
- Nitin Gadkari, ex- President of the BJP, Gadkari is the present Transport Minister. He was the President of BJP from 2010 to 2013, and was later succeeded by Rajnath Singh. He is a member of the National Executive Committee of BJP.
- Sushma Swaraj, ex Chief Minister of Delhi-Swaraj is the current Minister of External Affairs in the NDA-led government of India. She has been an MP for six terms in a row. She is presently the Union Minister of External Affairs in the Narendra Modi government and a member of the 16th Lok Sabha.
- Arun Jaitley, The Minister of Finance and the Minister of Information & Broadcasting in the present government. A notable lawyer by profession, Jaitley is a member of the National Executive Committee of the BJP. He has previously been a Cabinet Minister of the NDA-led government, holding important departments like the Ministry of Commerce and Industry as well as Law and Justice.
- Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, Modi is the ex-Chief Minister of Gujarat. He is also an MP from Varanasi.
As a major national political party of India, the BJP has made a number of significant contributions to the political scenario of the country. Some of these are listed below:
- The BJP has to its credit a number of frontal organizations. For example, the BJP youth wing, called the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), founded at almost the same time as the formation of the mother organisation BJP, has contributed to the student politics in the country, fighting major issues such as corruption and unemployment. The women wing of the BJP, called the BJP Mahila Morcha, claims to have addressed a number of women’s issues.
- In the capacity of the Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee ensured peaceful relations with the neighboring country Pakistan. He signed the Lahore Declaration in 1999, with the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif. In 2001, Vajpayee initiated a summit between the two nations, inviting Pervez Musharraf , the then Pakistan military ruler. Although the summit failed, Vajpayee is said to have made repeated attempts to warm up the relations between the two nations.
- In 2004, the BJP-led NDA government signed the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA), with the neighboring countries of the subcontinent, namely Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
- The BJP-led NDA government attempted to attract huge foreign investments through major infrastructural development projects like the Golden Quadrilateral network of National highways as well as the North South East West Corridor.
- As Education Minister, Rajnath Singh passed the Anti-Copy Act in 1992.
The BJP has recorded victories in Indian General Elections 2014 and in state elections of Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand in the last year or so. The party is hoping to continue its winning streak by capturing clear majority in the Delhi Assembly Elections of 2015 as well. The party has designated former IPS officer Kiran Bedi as its CM candidate for the Delhi elections.
Official Website - http://www.bjp.org/
Head-Office - 11 Ashoka Road, New Delhi-110001
Contact Numbers - 011-23005700
Fax - 011-23005787