The freedom movement of India was polluted by the idea of two-nations. Due to the appeasement of communal separatism and lack of proper vision of nationalism, the then leaders accepted the partition of the country on the basis of religion. Due to the strong opposition of the partition, the Congress government under the false allegation of Mahatma Gandhi ji’s murder banned the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee strongly agitated against giving the whole Bengal to Pakistan. Consequently, Pakistan could get only half of Bengal. On the advice of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Mookerjee was included in the Central Cabinet, but due to India’s subdued policy with Pakistan and being against the Nehru-Liaquat Pact expressing indifference to the security of Hindus in Pakistan, Dr. Mookerjee resigned from the Cabinet.
These two contexts gave birth to the Jana Sangh. Dr. Mookerjee met the second RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri Guruji and the process of forming the Jana Sangh was started. Having been started in May 1951, this process was completed on October 21, 1951, with the formation of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh under the presidentship of Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee. It was formed at the Raghomal Kanya Madhyamik Vidyalaya in Delhi. The rectangular saffron flag was accepted as its flag and ‘Deepak’ inscribed on it was accepted as the election symbol. In the same inaugural session, the manifesto for the first general election was also approved.
In the first general election, the Jana Sangh got 3.06 per cent votes and three MPs, including Dr. Mookerjee, were elected. Jana Sangh got the status of a national party. In the Parliament, ‘National Democratic Front’ was formed under the leadership of Dr. Mookerjee. Akali Dal, Gantantra Parishad, Hindu Mahasabha, Tamil Nadu Toilers Party, Commonweal Party, Dravid Kazhagam, Lok Sevak Sangh and independents together had 38 MPs (32 Lok Sabha and 6 Rajya Sabha MPs) in this Front. In this manner, president of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh Dr. Mookerjee was the first informal Leader of the Opposition of the country.
On May 29, 1952, Jammu-Kashmir Legislative Assembly accepted the proposal of joining the Indian Federation and on July 24 Nehru-Abdullah Agreement was signed. It was a conspiracy to create controversy and separate state of Jammu and Kashmir, which had already merged with India. Under this, arrangements for separate Constitution, separate Prime Minister and separate flags were made for the state. Praja Parishad strongly agitated against this and the Bharatiya Jana Sangh supported it. In Parliament, Dr. Mookerjee delivered a strong speech against it. Agitation became intense in Jammu and Kashmir.
The first conference of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh was held in Kanpur from December 29 to 31, 1952. Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya became the general secretary of Bharatiya Jana Sangh. Deendayal ji moved the resolution of Cultural Renaissance expressing ‘Geo-cultural nationalism’. It was the first ideological resolution and state Reorganisation Commission was demanded.
In March 1953, a satyagraha was started in Delhi with the demand for complete integration of Jammu and Kashmir. On May 11, Dr. Mookerjee entered Jammu and Kashmir without a permit under satyagraha, he was arrested and taken to Srinagar. To enter Jammu and Kashmir, over 10,750 satyagrahis participated in the agitation from all over the country. On June 23, Dr. Mookerjee attained martyrdom and Satyagraha was withheld.
As a result, on August 9, Sheikh Abdullah had to be arrested after being removed from the post of Prime Minister. Ultimately, permit system also ended.
From January 22 to 25, 1954 second conference of the Jana Sangh was held in Mumbai in which call was made for Swadeshi. The five-year plan, formulated in imitation of Russia, was strongly opposed.
British had left India in 1947, but Goa-Daman-Diu and Pondicherry were still parts of the Portuguese and French empires. The Jana Sangh started a movement for their freedom. Jana Sangh karyakarta Shri Narvane freed Dadar on July 22, 1954, and Shri Narvane led the freedom of Naroli Island on July 29. Jana Sangh karyakarta Shri Hemant Soman hoisted the tricolour on the Portuguese government Secretariat in Panaji on August 15. Under the leadership of All India Secretary of the Jana Sangh Shri Jagannath Rao Joshi, with a group of 101 satyagrahis, entered Goa. They were arrested and tortured. Shri Rajabhau Mahakal of Madhya Pradesh and Shri Amir Chandra Gupta of Uttar Pradesh were martyred.
With the call of changing the education system, the third conference of the Jana Sangh was held in Jodhpur from December 28, 1954 to January 2, 1955. Pt Prem Nath Dogra, the leader of the movement for Jammu and Kashmir integration, became the president. From April 19 to 22, 1955 the fourth conference was held in Jaipur. Renowned mathematician Acharya Ghosh became the president. The fifth conference was held in Delhi. States were being formed for building a case for federation. ‘Regionalism and violence’ was seen in its naked form. The Jana Sangh demanded ‘Integral Administration’ decentralised up to Janapadas. At the Delhi conference itself, the resolution of ‘Bharatiyakaran’ against communalism was passed and the manifesto for 1957 general election was drafted.
On August 8, 1957, first 11-day study camp of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh was conducted in Bilaspur.
Under the presidentship of Acharya Debaprasad Ghosh, the sixth conference was held in Ambala from April 4 to 6, 1958. Constitutional arrangement for electoral reforms was demanded. The seventh conference of the Jana Sangh was again held under the presidentship of Acharya Ghosh in Bangalore from December 26 to 28, 1958. In the 1957 general elections, Jana Sangh won four seats and the vote percentage almost doubled to 5.93%.
On September 10, 1958, Nehru-Noon Pact was signed. Consequently, the Berubari Union of Jalpaiguri was handed over to Pakistan. The Jana Sangh organised countrywide agitation to save Berubari.
In 1959, strong voice was raised against the infiltration of China on the borders. The Jan Sangh demanded the liberation of Tibet and mass awakening programmes were organised throughout the year.
From June 27 to July 6, 1959, ten-day study workshop was organised in Pune for the MLAs and MPs.
From January 23 to 25, 1960, the eighth conference of the Jana Sangh was held under the presidentship of Shri Pitambardas in Nagpur. Programmes to make government cautious against the illusion of “Hindi-Chini Bhai-Bhai” and raising of the voice against Chinese aggression continued throughout the year. From December 30, 1960 to January 1, 1961, the ninth conference was held under the presidentship of Shri Rama Rao. The tenth conference was held under the presidentship of great linguist Acharya Raghu Vira on December 29-31, 1962 in Bhopal. Unfortunately, on May 14, 1963, Acharya Raghu Vira died in a road accident and Acharya Ghosh was again elected president. The eleventh conference was held under the presidentship of Acharya Debaprasad Ghosh from December 28-30, 1963 in Ahmedabad.
In 1962, 14 MPs were elected from the Jana Sangh and the vote percentage was 6.44. In the history of the Jana Sangh, the year 1964 is a milestone. From August 10 to 15, a study camp was held in Gwalior where ‘Principle and Policy’ draft was conceptualised in which ‘Integral Humanism’ was implicit. In November 1964, the National Executive accepted the draft and in the 12th All India Conference, held under the presidentship of Shri Bachh Raj Vyas from January 23-26, 1965 in Vijayawada, it was officially declared philosophy of the party. In December 1964, the Jana Sangh demanded the making of the atom bomb.
In March 1965, Pakistan captured Kanajarkot in Kutch and continued its aggression. The government of India wanted to make peace with Pakistan, which was strongly opposed by the Jana Sangh. In July-August, Jana Sangh planned for countrywide demonstration. Demonstrations were held at around one lakh places across the country and on August 16, over 5 lakh people from every part of the country gathered in Delhi for the largest demonstration in the political history of the country against the Kutch Agreement. The slogan was ‘Fauj Na Hari, Kaum Na Hari, Haar Gayi Sarkar Hamari’ (Neither our army nor our people were defeated, but the government was defeated).
Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri drew strength from it and he got ready for the war. On September 1, the war started. The Jana Sangh worked with the Government and the Army shoulder to shoulder and the Indian army emerged victorious. A ceasefire was declared on the mediation of Russia and a Summit was decided to be held in Tashkent. The Jana Sangh opposed it. In Tashkent, Shastriji signed the Agreement handing back the areas won by our forces to Pakistan and in the same night he died due to a heart attack. Bharatiya Jana Sangh openly opposed the Tashkent Agreement.
In April 1966, 13th All India Conference of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh was held under the presidentship of Prof. Balraj Madhok in Jalandhar. In 1967, the fourth general election was held. Jana Sangh had by now become number 2 political party after the Congress. In Lok Sabha, 35 members of the party were elected and vote percentage increased to 9.41. In the Legislative Assembly also the Jana Sangh became no.2 All India party. In the entire country, our 268 MLAs won the elections.
In March 1967, the first non-Congress government was formed in Bihar and the Jana Sangh was part of it. Thereafter, governments were formed in Punjab, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh, and the Jana Sangh was part of all the governments.
From December 26 to 30, 1967, 14th All India Conference of the Jana Sangh was held in Calicut. The Jana Sangh was being nurtured by Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya as general secretary. Then he was elected president of the party. Deendayal ji delivered a historic presidential speech in Calicut. The leader who was working from behind came to light but destiny had something else in its store. On February 11, 1968, Deendayal ji was martyred, shocking the country’s politics.
On February 13, 1968, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee was elected president of the Jana Sangh. From July 8 to 11, the first All India Women Study camp was held in Nagpur. From April 25-27, 1969, 15th All India Conference was held in Bombay in which Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee was again elected as its president. It was the conference where the slogan was raised – ‘Pradhan Mantri Ki Agali Bari, Atal Bihari, Atal Bihari’. From July 2-8, All India study camp was organised in Raipur.
The 16th All India Conference was held in Patna under the presidentship of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee from December 28 to 30, 1969. Against the nexus of Congress, Communist and Muslim League trio, the country was warned with the slogan, ‘Tin Tilange, Karte Dange’. The slogan echoed in the entire country. ‘Swadeshi Plan’ was announced in Patna and again the slogan of ‘Bharatiyakaran’ was raised. In July 1970, the declaration was made for ‘Plan for Complete Employment’.
In January 1971, general election manifesto was released in the name of ‘Declaration of War against Poverty’. The defection politics in Samvid government and division of the Congress by Indira Gandhi had raised the political temperature of the country. The Jana Sangh was part of the non-Congress governments. It witnessed a slide for the first time since its inception. In Lok Sabha, its number came down to 21 from 35 and vote percentage too came down. Smt. Indira Gandhi registered a historic win.
In December 1971, Pakistan attacked India, starting the Bangladesh war. The Jana Sangh again worked with government and armed forces shoulder to shoulder. India won and Bangladesh was formed. The Jana Sangh organised a huge demonstration in Delhi with the demand to give recognition to Bangladesh. On April 2, the Jana Sangh organised ‘No to Second Tashkent’ day.
Against the oppression of Dalits, the Jana Sangh president Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee sat on symbolic fast at Bombay Hutatma Chowk.
Jana Sangh opposed the ‘Shimla Agreement’ after the victory in war. Against the returning of Gadra Road on the border of Rajasthan to Pakistan, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee carried out a satyagraha by going to Gadra Road. A huge demonstration in front of the Parliament against ‘Shimla Agreement’ was held. On August 3, Shri Jagannath Rao Joshi held satyagraha in Siyal Kot sector and Dr. Bhai Mahavir in Suigam (Gujarat).
The Jana Sangh celebrated Aurobindo centenary as ‘Akhand Bharat Divas’ on 15th August.
The victory of 1971 made Indira Gandhi arrogant. Corruption, arrogance and oppression became synonymous with her rule. In December 1972, the 18th Conference of Jana Sangh was held in Kanpur under the presidentship of Shri Lal Krishna Advani ji. There was churning in the country due to ‘Nav Nirman Movement’ in Gujarat and ‘Samagra Kranti’ in Bihar. Babu Jayaprakash Narayan ji became the leader of the movement. Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) was leading the movement from the front. Jana Sangh was with the movement. Shri Nanaji Deshmukh ji played a significant role in bringing JP in the movement. Shri Lal Krishna Advani ji who became president of the Jana Sangh for the second time invited Babu Jayaprakash Narayan ji in the All India Conference (19th – 7th March 1973). He said, “If Jana Sangh is Fascist, then I am also Fascist”.
Congress was defeated in the by-election and on the petition of Shri Rajnarayan, Allahabad High court declared the election of Indira Gandhi invalid and disqualified her from contesting elections. The emergency was declared in the midnight of June 25, 1975 and democracy was suppressed. All leaders were either jailed under MISA or went underground. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was banned. The next year general elections were scheduled to be held, but by amending the Constitution the tenure of Lok Sabha was extended by one year, consequently, elections were not held.
Babu Jayaprakash Narayan ji handed over the responsibilities of Lok Sangharsh Samiti to Shri Nanaji Deshmukh. Widespread movements took place throughout the country, and a large number of people were jailed. The karyakartas of Jana Sangh and swayamsevaks of the RSS were in the forefront of this movement. Elections were held in 1977. It was a silent revolution in India. Not only the Congress, but Indira Gandhi and her son Sanjay Gandhi also lost elections. In these elections, the Janata Party was in front of the Congress. Under the leadership of Jayaprakash Narayan, Bharatiya Jana Sangh, Samajwadi Party, Bharatiya Lok Dal and Congress Organisation had come together to form one party. After the elections on March 23, 1977 the end of Emergency was declared. The Jana Sangh merged with the Janata Party. Three leaders of the Jana Sangh joined the Government.
The Janata Party became a victim of mutual rivalry and power politics. In the contest for supremacy, the question of ‘dual membership’ was raised against the karyakartas of the Jana Sangh. Either the people of the Jana Sangh should leave the Janata Party or end their relationship with the RSS. On this issue, the leaders of Jana Sangh left the Janata Party, and on April 6, 1980 formed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the basis of panch nishthas (five commitments).
Indira Gandhi had already won 1980 Lok Sabha by-election. After the split of Janata Party, again efforts were made for bringing together non-Congress parties to fight the Congress. The Jana Sangh leaders who were ‘once bitten, twice shy’ were very cautious and felt they would never again enter into an alliance which could affect their identity. On October 31, 1984, a personal security guard of Indira Gandhi assassinated her, causing widespread anti-Sikh riots. The Jana Sangh and the Sangh karyakartas actively tried to foil all those efforts, which created animosity between Hindus and Sikhs. Then President of India Gyani Jail Singh administered the oath of Prime Ministership to Rajiv Gandhi on October 31. Lok Sabha elections were declared. The elections were washed away in the sympathy wave of Smt. Gandhi. It was the first election for Bharatiya Janata Party and it could win only two seats.
A critical appraisal took place in the party. A working team was constituted under the leadership of Shri Krishna Lal Sharma, which recommended that ‘Integral Humanism’ should again be declared basic ideology of the party. Consequently, in the National Executive held in October 1985 at Gandhi Nagar, it was included in the party constitution. The resolve to make the BJP a cadre-based organisation was taken. In 1986, the responsibility of presidentship of the party came on Shri Lal Krishna Advani.
Shri Rajiv Gandhi was becoming very popular as he had an image of ‘Mr. Clean’. The BJP seemed to be dragged on the sidelines of politics but it was not a reality. In 1987, Bofors scam came to light in which senior minister Shri VP Singh revolted. The image of ‘Mr. Clean’ was demolished.
In the Shahbano case, his minority vote-bank politics was exposed. The BJP activists organised huge public awakening programmes on this issue, and the common civil code was demanded again. In January 1988, the BJP demanded the resignation of Rajiv Gandhi and declaration of mid-term elections. Satyagrahas were held throughout the nation. On March 3, 1988, Shri Lal Krishna Advani was again elected president of the party. In August 1988, National Front was formed and NT Rama Rao became its president and VP Singh the convener. This was the birth of Janata Dal.
On September 25, 1989, BJP and the Shiv Sena alliance was formed. The election results were on expected lines. The Rajiv Gandhi Government was thrown out of power. In 1984, BJP had got two seats, but now its tally increased to 86. Along with Bofors issue, BJP focused on the slogan ‘Justice for all, Appeasement of none’ in these elections. Shri Lal Krishna Advani was elected to Lok Sabha for the first time.
In June 1989 at Palampur (Himachal Pradesh) National Executive, it was decided to support Shri Ram Janmabhoomi movement. It was a burning issue of cultural nationalism. It was a struggle between pseudo-secularism and real equal respect to every religion. The Ram Rath Yatra of Advani ji started from Somnath on the birth anniversary of Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya on September 25, and it was supposed to reach Ayodhya on October 30 to participate in the ‘Kar Seva’. The Rath Yatra received unprecedented support from the people.
On October 23, the Rath Yatra was stopped in Samastipur in Bihar and Shri Advani ji was detained there for five weeks. Karseva was held on October 30 throwing away all the government prohibitions. Shri Chandrashekhar became the Prime Minister with outside support from Congress and he tried unsuccessfully, though honestly, to resolve the Ayodhya issue. Rajiv Gandhi withdrew Congress’ support from his government within seven months. In the Uttar Pradesh state assembly elections, held in July 1991, BJP came out victorious. Pseudo-secularism was defeated. Shri Kalyan Singh became the Chief Minister. In the course of Lok Sabha elections, Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated and the Congress got sympathy votes. BJP’s tally increased from 86 to 119. Congress government was formed under the leadership of PV Narasimha Rao. Ram Mandir issue could not be resolved and during the Kar Seva of December 6, 1992, disputed structure was demolished by the Karsevaks.
In 1996, 1998 and 1999, three Lok Sabha elections were held in which BJP emerged as the largest single party. Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee remained the Prime Minister of India first for 13 days, then for 13 months and after that for four and half years. It was not only BJP but the NDA rule. The NDA lost the 2004 Lok Sabha elections.
For ten years, the party played an active and constructive role as opposition. In 2014 under the leadership of Shri Narendra Modi, for the first time, full majority government of BJP was formed in the country, which is now rebuilding a glorious India with the declaration of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’. The BJP has also become the world’s largest political party with 11 crore members under the leadership of BJP National President Shri Amit Shah.