With the dissolution of the 13th Lok Sabha today the country will be all set for the 14th General Election to the Lok Sabha.
A few of us in the party have been witness to all these thirteen elections held till now, and feel happy at what our party has been able to do for the country through the democratic process.
Analysis of poll outcomes is not an easy task. In a country as vast and variegated as India it is indeed a formidable job even for the best of psephologists. However, I shall attempt to briefly sum up the broad factors that have contributed to election results till date.
The Congress won the first five Lok Sabha elections, from 1952 to 1971, essentially because opposition parties, as compared to the Congress Party, were all miniscule parties, and furthermore were sharply fragmented.
A touchstone of possible poll outcomes in those days used to be: at a given point of time, what is the Opposition Unity Index.
In 1971, this relative superiority of the Congress Party became multiplied manifold when India triumphed over Pakistan and contributed to the liberation of Bangladesh.
Ever since 1971 it is Jana Sangh/BJP that has been setting the agenda and identifying the core issue for all elections.
In the first half of the 70s decade we joined hands with J.P. to create a synergy among Opposition Parties, and corner Congress on the issue of corruption.
Cornered, first by the J.P. movement, and then by the Allahabad High Court verdict in Mrs. Gandhi's case, Congress resorted to a desperate game plan . Democracy was administered a near fatal blow by imposition of the Emergency.
If Indian democracy has successfully overcome this assault it is because of the valorous resistance put up by J.P. and the opposition parties who were part of his movement. The Jana Sangh and the RSS were in the vanguard of this struggle for the restoration of Democracy.
The main issue in the 1977 Lok Sabha polls was Democracy. For the first time since Independence, the Congress Party lost a Lok Sabha election. The Congress Party did not just lose the election, it was trounced. The people punished the party for its sin of subverting democracy.
In 1980 the BJP was launched. By then our party functioning earlier as Jana Sangh, and later for a brief while as part of the Janata party, had earned high credibility as a party committed to national unity and integrity, probity in public life and whose leadership had an unimpeachable record of service to the nation.
The party's image, its leadership and its dedicated cadres have been our biggest assets.
The cutting edge for our spectacular growth in the last two decades has been provided by our success in laying down the agenda for national debate during this period.
In the eighties, the Congress Party did a shameful flip flop, first on the Shah Bano issue, and later on the Ayodhya issue. In both cases its behaviour was prompted by crass opportunism and vote bank politics.
At its National Executive meeting at Palanpur (H.P.) in early 1989, the BJP decided to support the Ayodhya movement. That decision touched off a vigorous debate in the country as to what is genuine secularism and what is pseudo secularism.
If elections in India after 1989 are an index of public opinion, it can hardly be disputed that despite the vicious campaign carried on against the Jana Sangh/BJP for over five decades now the country believes that BJP is sincerely committed to secularism and those who revile the party day in and day out as communal, are motivated by considerations of vote bank politics.
In 1997 the country completed 50 years of independence. As party president I undertook a 59 day Swarna Jayanti Rath Yatra to pay homage to thousands of freedom fighters who had sacrificed their lives or did tapasya to emancipate the country from foreign yoke.
The thrust of all speeches during this period was: even after 50 years of independence India continues to be backward; we got swaraj in 1947, but we have failed to convert it into suraj.
In 1998, the people of India installed Shri Vajpayee in office. Ever since, the NDA Government led by Shri Vajpayee has focused on just one objective SURAJ Good Governance.
If the country feels good today it is because the concrete results of SURAJ can be felt by every one.
The feel good factor is because of the sustained improvement in our economy.
But I regard even more important than the feel good factor is the feel proud factor.
Those who interacted with the participants in the Pravasi Bharatiya Sammelan last month could well see how this feel proud factor has become universal.
People of Indian origin throughout the world feel proud to be identified as Indians. India commands a level of respect in the international community as never before.
In 1971, when this feel proud feeling was there because of the Bangladesh war, the entire country shared this feeling. As leader of the Jana Sangh Shri Vajpayee was foremost in complimenting Mrs. Gandhi on the achievement.
See the contrast in the attitude of the Congress today. In fact my assessment is that if in Government Congress has been a dismal failure, in the opposition it has been generally irresponsible and almost always negative.
In the ten years preceding Shri Vajpayee's assumption of office as Prime Minister, the country saw as many as seven Prime Ministers. And since 1998 we have had just one Shri Vajpayee. And it is a universal assessment of all psephologists that the electorate will give Shri Vajpayee a clear 5 year mandate once again.