By Tushar Singh
For the people who followed Indian Politics, 2017 went by rather quickly. While India was recovering from demonetisation blues at the beginning of the year, the Goods and Service Tax (GST) was punched in by the government. While Uttar Pradesh seemed to ring the death knell for the Congress, Gujarat served as a resurrection. If Tamil Nadu was considered a one woman’s rule till 2016, it became an open playground for almost anyone to stake claim to be the Chief Minister (CM). Here is a month-by-month highlight of the year 2017.
January- Bulls reign supreme
Tamil Nadu witnessed pro-jallikattu protests on an unprecedented scale and the public debate about the issue spread from Tamil Nadu to all parts of the country. Jallikattu, a popular bull-taming sport in Tamil Nadu, celebrated every year during the Pongal Festival, had been banned by the Supreme Court in 2014 on account of animal cruelty. When the sport received overwhelming support from the people of Tamil Nadu, both the Central and State governments came out in support of the Jallikattu with the latter promulgating an ordinance.
February- All hell broke loose in Tamil Nadu
Sasikala was poised to take over as Chief Minister after the incumbent Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam resigned from his post on 5th February. However, two days later, O. Pannerselvam made a midnight dash to Jayalalithaa’s memorial at Marina beach to meditate, claiming ‘Amma’s soul had called out to him’. He claimed that Sasikala had forced him to resign. This triggered a power tussle to replace Jayalalithaa which included Sasikala parading 134 AIADMK MLAs as a resort to prevent them from supporting O. Panneerselvam.
Sasikala had lost all hopes of becoming CM as she was convicted in a disproportionate assets case. There was also a divide inside the AIADMK, the two divisions coming together with E. Palaniswamy as CM and Panneerselvam as his deputy. Finally, TTV Dhinakaran from the Sasikala camp won the RK Nagar by-poll later in the year as an independent candidate, trumped AIADMK making things difficult for her.
March- Kesariya Holi
The eventful UP election was preceded by a divide between the father-son duo of Mulayam and Akhilesh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party. BJP, fighting on Narendra Modi’s face, trumped all opposition parties and won 325 out of 403 seats. The drama did not end there as BJP nominated the controversial figure of Yogi Adityanath as its Chief Minister in Uttar Pradesh, while opposition parties cried foul over electronic voting machine (EVM) manipulation. Congress replaced the Akali Dal government in Punjab as BJP formed coalition governments in Goa and Manipur, despite coming second to the Congress in these states. They also sacrificed the defence minister, Manohar Parrikar, in the process.
April- Farmers take to streets
Tamil Nadu farmers, reeling under the worst drought in their state in 140 years, called off their protests which had caught media attention worldwide. Their unique forms of protests included carrying skulls of fellow farmers who had killed themselves, stripping in front of the Prime Minister’s (PM) office, eating mice, carrying dead snakes, drinking their own urine, amongst others. They re-launched their protest after a few days again in Chennai after apparently none of their demands were met, including pension, pending dues from private sugar mills and loan waiver.
May- The EVM Drama
The unruly Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) took to the floor of the Delhi legislative assembly to ‘demonstrate’ how an EVM could be hacked. They ended up embarrassing themselves as the Election Commission soon organised an EVM hackathon in which any political party could participate. Not only did AAP not participate, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Communist Party of India Marxist (CPI(M)) members who did, could do little with the EVM.
In other news, Pehlu Khan was killed by suspected cow vigilantes in Rajasthan’s Alwar, adding fuel to ongoing protests against beef ban and excesses committed by fringe groups under BJP government.
June- Political unrest at its peak
On one hand, five farmers were shot and killed when they were protesting in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh. On the other, the beautiful city of Darjeeling erupted into protests when tourism was at its peak. The farmers were demanding relief from loans from the state government while the Gorkhaland Janashakti Morcha (GJM) launched violent protests after West Bengal State government’s decision to make Bengali compulsory for all students till class nine.
July- BJP reigns
BJP succeeded in launching the biggest tax reform of independent India at a midnight session of the Parliament, and BJP’s candidate Bihar governor, Ram Nath Kovind, took oath as President of the country. To cap it off, Nitish Kumar ditched Lalu Prasad Yadav and the Mahagathbandhan which had defeated the BJP two years ago in the Bihar elections. Nitish Kumar took CM’s oath within hours again, this time with BJP as its alliance partner, thus further consolidating the already dominant NDA.
August- The display of Judicial strength
The Supreme Court gave two historic judgements which will play an important part in shaping the future of the nation. The first was upholding the Right to Privacy as a Fundamental Right. The other was declaring Triple Talaq unconstitutional. Both were significant in their own right.
In another judgement, a CBI court sentenced the so-called saint Ram Rahim to 20 years in jail for two rape cases, which sparked off violent protests for a day or two in parts of Delhi and Haryana, affecting everyday life.
September- Fast forward
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe laid the foundation stone in Ahmedabad for the country’s first ‘bullet train’. While PM Modi hailed it as a ‘symbol of new India’, the ₹1,10,000 crore project, 90% of which is funded by Japan, was criticised by several sections of the media. It was considered as a waste of time and money when many people in the country couldn’t afford food along with the deplorable plight of the farmers, sparking off debates throughout the country.
October- Post Durga Puja drama
Mukul Roy quit the Trinamool Congress and resigned from the Rajya Sabha, and revealed many reasons for doing so. He called TMC a one-man party and accused West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee of dynastic politics. He later accused Abhishek Banerjee, a lawmaker and nephew of Mamata Banerjee, of getting the party’s electoral symbol and Biswa Bangla, the trademark used by the government of West Bengal for official activities of all its departments, registered as his own with the trademark registration authorities.
November- Smog and Padmavati
While North India was engulfed in smog, Dineshwar Sharma went further North twice, in Kashmir, as Central Government’s interlocutor for Kashmir. While the meeting did break the ice, Sharma did not meet any separatists. He was unable to differentiate himself from interlocutors appointed before him.
In other news, many hardline Rajput groups, led by Karni Sena, launched protests against the film Padmavati whose release was postponed by the film’s producers under pressure.
December- Win or no Win?
As Rahul Gandhi took over as the President of the Indian National Congress, Congress lost both Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh elections. However, all was not well for the BJP as its chief ministerial candidate P.K. Dhumal lost from his constituency in Himachal Pradesh and Jairam Thakur took oath as CM. BJP also lost a considerable number of seats in Gujarat, especially from rural areas, a sign of discontent among farmers.
Featured Image Source: Pixabay
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