Helped by a significant wave against the Congress-headed UPA, Narendra Modi lifted Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from two consecutive defeats to secure an absolute majority on its own at the Centre and helped it add further muscle by snatching power in three states.
However, at the end of successful year the party and its government at the Centre were dogged with controversies spurred by the pro-activism of “Hindutva” outfits campaigning on conversion, “love-jihad” and other issues which are pet themes of RSS.
Once regarded as a divisive figure, the 64-year-old former Gujarat Chief Minister and an RSS Pracharak single-handedly catapulted the BJP to further successes in the Assembly elections that followed the Lok Sabha polls in May.
In one of the most spectacular years since its establishment in 1980, the party added to its kitty, not just the Centre but governments in Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand, and became a major player in Jammu and Kashmir, where it got 25 seats, albeit all in Jammu region, emerging the largest in popular vote with 23 per cent votes.
Having lost two successive previous general elections, the party was forced to choose a mascot that could get them power and struck at the roots of three-decade old era of coalition politics.
Preparations started almost a year ago when he was chosen the party’s campaign chief followed by being declared as its Prime Ministerial candidate in September.
Narendra Modi disproved critics who said he may not be able to get uncommitted votes to the party because of his hardliner image.
The party rode the wave created by Narendra Modi’s aggressive campaign across the country and romped to power at the Centre by staging a historic victory and securing 282 seats in the Lok Sabha, a feat not achieved by anyone in the last 30 years. The BJP bagged 31.34 per cent of total votes polled.
The BJP scored many firsts this year, the most important being its ability to upstage Congress in independent India and emerge as the main party in the country.
Stemming from its Lok Sabha victory, the party gambled in the crucial Assembly elections in Maharashtra by going it alone dumping its oldest saffron ally Shiv Sena and emerged the single largest party in the state, though falling short of majority. It is another story that Shiv Sena later ate its words and came back to BJP and join the government there.
Similar tactics in Haryana helped it to capture power on its own.
BJP also ventured into unchartered territories where it was insignificant and has now marked its presence, including in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu vote wise.
The icing on the cake came in Jammu and Kashmir where it emerged the second largest party and is in a position to call the shots in government formation in a fractured verdict.
The party, however, could not perform well in the east coast in states like Odisha, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, where assembly elections were also held, and in Tamil Nadu, because of the presence of strong regional parties there, who have nothing to do with Congress.
Organisationally too, the BJP underwent major changes with Modi effecting a generational change by sidelining veterans and installing a new, young team.
The end of Vajpayee-Advani era was marked by the sidelining of seniors LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, whom Modi moved into a newly created ‘Marg Darshak Mandal’.
The emerging hold of Modi on the BJP was complete with the installation of his close aide Amit Shah, who led the party to victory in Haryana, Maharashtra and Jharkhand, positioning the BJP strongly and pushing old allies like Shiv Sena in Maharashtra to a second position.
The new Modi-Shah combination’s success in the Assembly elections could over time help the BJP tide over its lack of majority in Rajya Sabha, where it is at the mercy of the opposition now and unable to push forward crucial legislations.
As the new year dawns, the party has set its eyes on Delhi Assembly elections and has begun preparations for Bihar polls by the next year-end.
The party successfully put in an agenda of “Congress- mukt” (freeing India from Congress) relegating the party to a mere 44 seats in Lok Sabha while ousting it from power in some major states.
In a generation shift in the organisation, the BJP has also seen many young faces occupying key positions in the party as well as the government.
The BJP launched its first major membership drive led by Shah and kept an ambitious target to have 10 crore members, against its present around 3.5 crore.
The party launched an on line hi-tech membership drive, with Prime Minister Modi becoming the first member to renew his membership, followed by Shah. It aims to achieve its target by March 2015.
The BJP also saw a major focus on overseas affairs and expanded its base internationally with the “Overseas Friends of BJP” units.