From fringe player to power centre: how BJP turned the tide

  • Dharmendra Jore, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Nov 01, 2014 21:12 IST

Many had thought Atal Bihari Vajpayee had jumped the gun at the Bharatiya Janata Party’s first national session in Mumbai in 1980 with his comment: “Andhera chhatega, suraj niklega, kamal khilega [the sun will rise, the darkness will go away and the lotus will bloom]”.

The Jan Sangh had just been reformed as the BJP, and it was destined to win only two Lok Sabha seats in 1984.

But after seeing many ups and down at the national- and state-level politics in the past 30 years, the BJP managed an unprecedented 282 seats in this year’s Lok Sabha polls. Four months later, it repeated its stupendous show in Maharashtra assembly elections, making its first-ever solo government in the state.

While the Modi wave is attributed for the party’s absolute power, political pundits say even the PM wouldn’t have been able to achieve such a performance without the support of dedicated cadres and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which has its roots in Maharashtra.

The split with the Sena got the party close to majority in the assembly, where it had just 46 members. The simmering anger against the ruling alliance added firepower to the BJP’s campaign.

“We would not have won more seats if we were still part of the alliance,” said one of BJP’s former spokespersons. “The break-up worked wonders for us. The social changes [over the years] also helped us,” he said.

“The BJP cadre was charged up mainly because of the leadership of Narendra Modi and micro-planning by party chief Amit Shah,” said political commentator Vinod Deshmukh.

He said the RSS has a strong base in Maharashtra and it comes handy whenever elections are held. “The freedom given to workers and anti-incumbency against the Congress and the NCP worked wonders for the BJP.”

The BJP puts in efforts that other party didn’t. It conducted multiple surveys to select candidates after gaining lead in 144 assembly segments in the LS polls. It projected victory in at least 135 segments.

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