In 1996, the BJP became the single-largest political party in the parliament, with the Congress at its lowest tally ever. The President of India, Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma, appointed Vajpayee as Prime Minister i.e., the first BJP Government (May 16 – 31st, 1996). Sri Vajpayee was obliged to resign after serving the shortest time as prime minister in India – 13 days.
Lok Sabha elections were again held in 1998, and the NDA National Democratic Alliance obtained a simple majority. Sri Vajpayee returned as Prime Minister for second time (March 19, 1998 – October 13, 1999). As the AIADMK withdrew its support, fresh elections were again called.
The NDA government provided significant support to the Prasar Bharati Act which gave government owned media channels more autonomy.
The Vajpayee government carried out an electoral promise with the 5 nuclear tests at Pokhran, in Rajasthan in 1998, which gave India a weaponised nuclear capacity.
On October 13, 1999, the BJP-led NDA won 303 seats. The BJP won an all-time high of 183. Vajpayee became Prime Minister for the third time in his life (October 13, 1999 – May 13, 2004), and Advani became the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister.
The government especially catered to the rising information technology industry, and lowered taxes for middle-class Indians and businesses. Record increases in agricultural and industrial production were matched by hungry middle-class consumers, and increasing foreign trade and investment. Sri Vajpayee took a personal interest in the Golden Quadrilateral project, a road system which aimed at linking the four corners of the nation with heavy, industrial roads. His education programs boosted the enrollment of children into primary schools, expanded aid for schools and pushed new-age technologies to improve schooling.
The Vajpayee government won the proxy war by Pakistan in Kargil and recovered lost ground on the Indian side of the Line of Control.
In 2002, the Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act (POTA) law increasing the powers of police authorities and intelligence agencies was passed in an effort to curb subversive political activities and terrorism. The POTA was promulgated chiefly in response to the December 13, 2001 terrorist attacks on the Union Parliament.