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The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) established in December 1980 is the new and modified version of Bhartiya Jana Sangh, that was founded on 21st October 1951, under the presidentship of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee. The BJP has points of continuity with the Jana Sangh, in its discipline and well-knit organizational set-up and in its linkage with the traditional Hindu socio-cultural organizations, RashtriyaSwayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). With certain variations in its political perspective and policy orientation it has close affinity with the erstwhile Jana Sangh.
Jana Sangh dissolved itself and became one of the major constituents of the Janata Party on 1st May 1977. Jana Sangh leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L.K. Advani became ministers in the Janata Party cabinet. After the electoral defeat of the party in 1980 Lok Sabha election, most of the erstwhile Jana Sangh members declined to stay on in the Janata Party and formed instead a separate Bhartiya Janata Party. This was partly because the other members of the Janata were objecting to the practice of the former Jana Sangh members continuing to remain members of the RSS as well.
So, when the BJP was formed, the new party while permitting dual membership with the RSS, also proclaimed that their ideal is ‘Gandhian Socialism’, and for its realization they sought inspiration from Gandhiji, Jayaprakash Narayan and DeendayalUpadhyaya.
The BJP has a strong electoral support base in the Hindi belt especially among the traders and shopkeepers in the urban and the rural areas, among the traditional business community the Vaishyas and Jains, among the masses attuned to the traditional view of politics but also among the professionals and service personnel. It has also extended its influence to pockets in South India.
The BJP, at present, is one of the two major political parties in India, along with the Indian National Congress. In terms of representation in the national parliament and state assemblies, it is India’s largest political party in the year 2016. It is also the world’s largest party in terms of primary membership. With the Ram Janmabhoomi movement it grew in strength and gained convincing victories in several state elections. BJP also performed better in the Lok Sabha elections and became the largest party in the Parliament in 1996 from a tally of just two seats in 1984. But due to its lack of majority in the Lower House, the government could not last for more than 13 days.
National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the BJP led coalition, got an opportunity to form the government again after 1998 general election under Atal Bihari Vajpayee as Prime Minister for a year. In the next general election in the year 1999, the NDA government lasted for a full term in office, again under Atal Bihari Vajpayee as its Prime Minister. This was the first non-Congress government in India to do so. However, the NDA suffered an unexpected defeat in the 2004 Lok Sabha election and the BJP had to settle to play the important role of the main opposition party for the next ten years, before Narendra Modi, who led Gujarat as the longest serving Chief Minister, led it to a landslide victory in the 2014 general election. Narendra Modi continues to lead the NDA government as Prime Minister as of 2016 and the alliance has its governments in 15 states.
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