Author: Kingshuk Nag
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“The pendulum has swung from one end to the other. If the first elections of the Indian Republic in 1951 began with the Congress Party straddling like a colossus across the polity, that monopoly has been eroded over the years and now ended completely.
The BJP stormed into power in the 2014 elections with a thumping majority, becoming the only party other than the Congress to achieve this.”
– Kingshuk Nag
Narendra Modi’s landslide victory as the Prime Ministerial candidate for the Bharatiya Janta Party in the world’s largest election in 2014 was a stark moment in Indian history. It not only represented a great high for the BJP, but one of the lowest lows for the ruling party, the Congress.
For the first time in 30 years, one single party won a clear majority on its own, bringing coalition politics in India to a momentary standstill.
The BJP are all the rage right now, but they started off as the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, at the helm of which stood Syama Prasad Mookerjee, a crusader for the cause of Bengali Hindus in erstwhile East Pakistan in 1951. Mookerjee was a Congressman who was deeply dissatisfied by the Party and set up his own nationalist Party in response to a falling out with Nehru.
Initially a nobody, the Jana Sangh entered the big league after it joined forces with several other players to form the Janata Party in an effort to take on Indira Gandhi in 1977. This coalition broke up in 1980, and it was then that the BJP emerged in its present avatar.
With a confusing history and many mysterious deaths, the saga of the creation of the BJP had many key players, be it L. K. Advani or the face of the Jana Sangh, Atal Bihari Vajpayee (who recently received a long overdue Bharat Ratna by popular demand). Today, the party has a single idol, Narendra Modi, who has ensured a pan-Indian presence with a devoted base, not just within the country but also among the Hindu populace worldwide. However, the BJP’s remarkable rise has not been without struggle and controversy.
In The Saffron Tide, a timely biography of the BJP, Kingshuk Nag traces the history of the party of India, and crystal gazes to estimate the course that it will chart for itself in the coming years. Balanced, informative and thought-provoking, this volume will be indispensable for anyone interested in the political history of post-Independence India.
Since its inception, the BJP has presented a popular democratic alternative to the Congress, but it has struggled to shed its image of being overtly dedicated to the pro-Hindutva agenda. Historical events such as Upadhyaya’s strict insistence on Hindi have created distaste for the party amongst minorities from time to time.
With nuggets of information which the common man may not know about the Ruling Party of the country, Nag’s thesis on the Bharatiya Janta Party is as unbiased as it is revolutionary, covering the breadth and depth of the party’s philosophy, origins and future.
For political history buffs, this book is a godsend. Though the book is recent, the only qualm a reader can have is that it isn’t updated in real time as Modi’s Twitter feed. But undeniably, with the rise of the saffron tide, in the words of Modi himself, “India has won. Good days lie ahead”