Bharatiya Janata Party

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The most significant Hindu nationalist political party, which was formed in 1980 out of the Janatā Party and its predecessor, the Jana Saṅgh, in order to promote what it considered to be Hindu values, in opposition to the secularism of the Congress Party. Its leaders were implicated in the violence surrounding the destruction of the Bābrī Masjid mosque at Ayodhyā in 1992. Briefly in coalition government in 1996, as the largest single party the BJP again formed coalition governments in 1998 and 1999, with Atal Behari Vajpayee as Prime Minister. Among its controversial policies was the rewriting of school textbooks in order to present Hindus as the victims of a series of invasions from outside, and to glorify ancient Hindu civilization. By 2003 the BJP had, in public, toned down its sectarian Hindu and anti-Muslim rhetoric, campaigning on the strength of the economy rather than questions of religion. Having lost the support of millions of the rural poor, who had failed to benefit from India's economic boom, and having alienated some voters through their rejection of secularism, the BJP was defeated in the 2004 election by Sonia Gandhi's Congress Party.

Subjects: Hinduism.

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