Here's ABV's speech at BJP's first "Adhiveshan" back in 1980 -
Now this is a speech that deserves close analysis
Did they choose to emphasize their "Hindu exceptionalism"? Or did they seek to fashion themselves as a "mainstream" party downplaying their "Hindu" credentials?
Now let's try to dissect this speech of his delivered in 1980 at the dawn of the party's history
"Janata Party toot gayi, Magar ham JaiPrakash ke sapnon ko tootne nahin denge"
"Jaiprakash kisi vyakti ka naam nahin hai. Jaiprakash kuch aadarshon ka naam hai. Kuch mulyon ka naam hai."
Not Savarkar. Not Shama Prasad Mukherjee. Not Golwalkar. No.
But Jaiprakash Narayan. The Socialist leader.
I find this very odd. And it's not a surprise this "moderate strategy" didn't work.
"Bharatiya Janata Party Punjivaad ko bhi asvikaar karta aur Marxvaad ko bhi asvikaar karta hain. Dono judva bhai hain".
Translation - "The BJP rejects both capitalism and marxism - both are twins"
"Hamne Gandhivaadi Samaajvaad ko ek nishta ke roop mein sweekar kiya hai"
"Hamne sampradaay nirapekshata ko bhi sweekar kiya hai"
"We accept Gandhian socialism as a duty of ours"
"We also accept Secularism"
"Hum to ek haath mein Bharat ka Samvidhan aur dusre haath mein Samata ka nishan leke maidan mein khudenge"
"We will join the electoral battlefield with the Indian Constitution in one hand, and the sign of "Equality" in the other"
In its first general elections in 1984, it won just 2 seats.
A sharp drop from the 35 seats it had won in 1967 - under Balraj Madhok's leadership - ABV's great rival
In 1989, the BJP increased its tally from 2 seats to 89. And its vote share from 7% to 11.5%.
This further increased to 120 seats and 20% vote share in 1991, under LK Advani's leadership.
ABV's moderation had failed. Failed miserably.
And yes, he did become the Prime Minister in 1996. And again in 1998. And remained PM for 6 long years.
He helped form a party that he consciously projected as a "break from the past". A centrist socialist party.
And those were 6 lost years for the BJP.
His legacy during the party's formative years was very unremarkable to put it as charitably as one can!
But is plain wrong
So bringing back Vajpayee was primarily an attempt by BJP to get more allies. It got them NO incremental vote.
Electorally Vajpayee was not really a major factor
The effort am sure was sincere from ABV
But it did not help the party