In 10 graphs: how the BJP became the largest political party in the world in 4 decades | India News
Officially founded on April 6, 1980, the party emerged from the shadow of Jana Sangh, formed in 1951 by Shyama Prasad Mookerjee. The Jana Sangh merged with other parties to form the Janata Party in 1977 after the state of emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi, then Congress Prime Minister. The Janata party dissolved in 1980 and its members formed the BJP with Atal Bihari Vajpayee as its first president.
42 years later, the BJP has become the largest political party in the world which rules a country of more than 1.4 billion people and has governments in no less than 18 states.
On its 42nd day of founding, we take a look at how the BJP has spread its footprint to almost every corner of India and become the mainstay of Indian politics.
A chest of 2 to 303
In 1984, the BJP contested its first-ever Lok Sabha elections as an independent party and opened its account with just two seats, a feat that was paled by the overwhelming performance of the Congress the same year.
But the decisive victory of two BJP leaders – Chandupatla Janga Reddy of Andhra Pradesh and AK Patel of Gujarat – gave the party much-needed ballast to face the powerful Congress in the years to come.
The BJP has seen a steady increase in its number of seats in subsequent general elections (except 2004 and 2009). It won 85 seats in 1989 and broke double digits in 1991.
In 2014 and 2019, the party staged historic victories under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, single-handedly securing a comfortable majority in the lower house. In 2019, the BJP alone crosses the 300 mark for the first time.
Along with its seat share, the BJP has also seen a steady increase in its vote share as it has established itself as India’s other major national party.
In 2014 and 2019, the BJP’s vote share exceeded 30%, meaning that one in three Indians who voted chose the BJP.
BJP’s rise mirrors Congress’ decline
As the BJP grew more and more, its main opponent, the Congress, witnessed a steady decline in state and national elections.
The big old party, which ruled India for several decades, saw its share of Lok Sabha seats fall from a high of 415 in 1984 to just 44 in 2014. In 2019, the party only managed to secure only 52 seats in the lower house.
The Congress electoral decline in the previous two Lok Sabha elections is almost inversely proportional to the growth of the BJP. As Congress hit a historic low, the BJP scaled the heights of success.
Even at the provincial level, the BJP is now in power in 18 states – 12 alone and 6 in coalition. On the other hand, Congress finds itself with governments only in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.
The chart above shows how the BJP has left Congress far behind across all policy parameters.
Dominating the two houses
After expanding its footprint across the states, the BJP managed to hit the 100 mark in Rajya Sabha for the first time, becoming the first party since 1990 to cross the threshold.
Although the BJP tally once again dips below 100 with four of its members retiring in three weeks and 52 seats at the polls, the party has moved closer to its goal of being the first non-Congress party to win majority in both Houses.
The BJP’s tally, despite falling far short of a majority in the 245-member House, highlights its continued rise since Prime Minister Narendra Modi led it to its Lok Sabha majority in polls by 2014.
The BJP’s membership in Rajya Sabha was 55 in 2014 and has steadily increased since the party took power in a number of states.
Its victories in Lok Sabha aside, the BJP has managed to seize power in several states over the past few years. Of the 31 states/UTs in India, the BJP is now in power in 18, including politically crucial states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
The map above shows the BJP’s footprint in the states it has ruled over the years. The oldest of them are Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. In total, the BJP has spent more than 25 years in power in Gujarat and 19 years in Madhya Pradesh; even if it is not continuous.
The party, however, failed to make a name for itself in southern India. While the BJP has ruled Karnataka for more than 7 years in the past decades, it has yet to form governments in states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana where regional parties dominate.
While power also eluded the BJP in West Bengal, the party managed to make impressive gains in last year’s assembly elections after an aggressive battle with TMC.
The largest political party in the world
The BJP’s dynamic race in India has made it a political juggernaut in recent years.
Today, the saffron party is the largest political group in the world with over 180 million members. That’s nearly twice the strength of the Chinese Communist Party, the second largest political party in the world.
Compared to the Congress, the BJP has almost ten times more members.
The organizational strength of the BJP comes from its vast network of cadres, which spans the length and breadth of India.
Separately, the party has also undertaken ambitious membership drives in recent years, including initiatives such as online registration.
The BJP’s aggressive membership drives stem from its understanding of maintaining a strong cadre base, which helps it win election after election.