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What Makes BJP Really Different

It is not very difficult to identify features that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) shares with other parties. As actors in a common political environment and institutional set-up, parties evolve many similarities. However, it would be a mistake to overemphasise these similarities. For a comprehensive understanding of the BJP and its success, it is necessary not only to remember the common features that it shares with other political parties, but also to look at what is so different about the BJP.

At the risk of stating the obvious, it needs to be stated that the key difference between the BJP and most other parties in India is regarding the organisational trajectory and expanse of the former. Observers have always noted that there is a complex relationship between the BJP and its parent organisation, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Sometimes, the RSS distances itself from the BJP saying that the latter is a separate entity, but nobody can seriously doubt the organic link between the two. This link, and the organisational network that the RSS has evolved, constitute the core difference between the BJP and most other parties.

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