Bharatiya Janata Party
भारतीय जनता पार्टी
The Bharatiya Janata Party “Indian People’s Party”; BJP, is one of the two major parties in the Indian political system. Established in 1980, it is India’s second largest political party in terms of representation in parliament and in the various state assemblies.
The BJP’s roots lie in the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, formed in 1951 by Syama Prasad Mookerjee. For the 1977 general elections, the Jana Sangh merged with several parties to form the Janata Party to defeat the incumbent Congress party. Following Janata’s dissolution in 1980, the rank and file of the erstwhile Jana Sangh reconvened as the Bharatiya Janata Party. Although initially unsuccessful, winning only two seats in the 1984 general election, the BJP soon grew in strength on the wave of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, and came to power in several states. Following a series of increasingly better performances at the national elections, the party was invited to form the government in 1996, albeit only for 13 days.
From 1998 to 2004, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), a coalition of several parties, formed the national government. Headed by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, it was the first non-Congress government to last a full term in office. Since its surprising defeat in the 2004 general elections, the BJP has been the principal opposition party in parliament. The party is currently directly in power in five states, including Gujarat, whose Chief Minister Narendra Modi is the NDA’s prime-ministerial candidate for the upcoming 2014 general elections.
The BJP designates its official ideology and central philosophy to be “integral humanism”, based upon a 1965 book by Deendayal Upadhyaya. Labelled as right-wing and “Hindu nationalist”, the party advocates social conservatism, self-reliance as outlined by the Swadeshi movement, and a foreign policy centred on nationalist principles. Key issues for the BJP include the abrogation of the special constitutional status to Jammu and Kashmir (Article 370), building a Ram temple in Ayodhya and the implementation of a uniform civil code for all Indians. However, the NDA government pursued none of these controversial issues and implemented a largely-neoliberal economic policy in favour of globalisation.