Free Press Journal

Flashback 2017: From more Modi-nomics to RaGa 2.0, the year has been a political potboiler

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2017 is about to end, people are already thinking and making their new year resolution, but a year can’t be ended without taking a quick flashback on the year it has been. This year it was just not about who getting married to whom or where, but politically also India has seen many things this year.

Politics in the largest democracy of the world is vastly complex. What makes it even more puzzling is the fact that India is a melting bowl of cultures, religions, communities, castes, etc and all of them need to be politically represented. While people were still recovering from the effects of demonetisation, some politically parties were enjoying their victories in state assembly elections.

This year we have seen rise and fall of politicians, while on the other hand some politicians trying to keep up time and pace of the increase in anti-incumbency.


So lets have a look at some unmissable political events of 2017,

Rise of BJP:

While the BJP is on a winning spree from 2014, the Narendra Modi and Amit Shah duo, has done wonders for BJP. BJP’s basic agenda of ‘Congress Mukt Bharat’, finally came to shape in 2017 after state elections, where BJP made it clear that it mean serious business.

While it was clean victory in Uttar Pradesh, but BJP had nail biting moments in the latest Gujarat assembly elections. 2017 had been a ups-down where the party was critised for its demonetisation and digitisation move, on the other hand BJP was praised for winning in most state assembly elections. Hope BJP continues its winning spree in 2018 too.

The new and improved version of Rahul Gandhi, RaGa 2.0:

After a few months sabbatical, a rejuvenated Rahul Gandhi has transformed himself to such an extent, where he has surprised his critics and his admirers, too. The new-found aggression with which he has been targeting the NDA government at Centre in general, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in particular, we are seeing a new avatar of the Congress party’s newly appointed President.

Adopting an unusually aggressive stance, Gandhi succeeded in unsettling the Modi government with his “suit-boot ki sarkar” jibe, which implied that the government watched out only for the interests of the well-to-do. The remark hit home. After struggling to be taken seriously, Gandhi appears to be hitting the right notes once again. His recent visit to the United States where he interacted with university students, academics and members of the Indian diaspora, and his subsequent campaign trip to poll-bound Gujarat, has caught the attention of both Congress cadres as well as the people at large. Social media is suddenly kinder to him. He is no longer being trolled on the same scale as he was so far.

With Gujarat results, it’s clear that a self-assured Gandhi is stepping out of the shadow of his mother with energy and enthusiasm that the Congress desperately needs. If Gandhi is able to sustain it, without embarking on personal trips during important political developments, he may well be able to mount a challenge to the BJP in the next round of Assembly elections in 2018, and to Modi’s prime ministership in 2019.

The Jallikattu politics:

Jallikattu

When something apolitical suddenly electrified the Marina sands in Chennai for about a week from January 17, 2017, – it actually began with a small group of ten people coming together in front of Vivekananda House nearby and raised the slogan, ‘We want jallikattu’, with the protest gathering on the historic beach swelling to a massive 20 lakh people over that week, it was a shuddering, yet refreshingly new spectacle.

Jallikattu protests across Tamil Nadu can no more be seen just as a movement for saving a 2000-year-old sporting tradition. True, the sport is an important part of India’s great cultural tradition. But the unending protests across Tamil Nadu, especially when the matter is pending with the Supreme Court and the state Assembly is not in session, belies the culture cry of protesters and hints at political aspirations powering the movement from behind. The following points may help understand this better.

a) BJP leader Tarun Vijay joined Jallikattu protesters in Delhi and promised he would bring more youths to support the agitation from Uttarakhand and elsewhere.

b) Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Tamil Nadu chief minister O Paneerselvam. However, nothing concrete could come out of the meeting as the Centre put the onus of taking a decision for allowing Jallikattu on Tamil Nadu with the promise that Modi government will provide all possible help if the state finds itself in a legal soup.

c) The Tamil Nadu CM approached the Centre demanding an Ordinance to make Supreme Court’s ban on Jallikattu ineffective. However, entry 33 of list II (the State List) of the 7th schedule to the Constitution mentions the state can itself introduce an Ordinance on matters related to sports and entertainment, according to former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju.

d) Apart from AIADMK, several political parties including the Congress, Tamil Nadu’s DMK, BJP, PMK and AIMIM have put their weight behind the protests. Instead of making attempts to end the protests, it seems parties are in a race to make some political gains out of it. All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi even raked up the Hindutva and Uniform Civil Code issues today in the context of Jallikattu. “Lesson for Hindutva forces, Uniform Civil Code cannot be “imposed” this nation cannot have one CULTURE we celebrate all,” he tweeted.

This also ignited fire in Maharashtra where protests were seen against government who was trying to bull racing across the state.

For the BJP-led Centre, any agitation in the name of culture is always a welcome agitation. When the Jallikattu storm ends, it is obvious who will gain the most. But then, who will lose? Maybe, the bull. Days ahead are not so good for animal rights organisations like PETA, who often pursue their own political agenda.

Tamil Nadu politics:

As Tamil Nadu grappled with political uncertainty following the death of chief minister J. Jayalalithaa last December (2016), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was accused of manoeuvring political affairs in the state. But can the party that rules at the centre find a political space in the southern state?

The sudden disappearance of the two principal Dravidian leaders—Jayalalithaa’s death and the departure from centre stage of 93-year-old Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) president M. Karunanidhi—has led analysts to speculate about the next political course in the state.

For Tamil Nadu, which is celebrating its 50 years of Dravidian parties’ rule, there could be a space that is emerging for an alternative force—but can a party like BJP fill that room?

Mint had reported in September that even as the national party makes desperate attempts to gain a foothold amid political turmoil in Tamil Nadu, the anti-BJP chorus is getting louder.

In spite of the very conducive environment for a new political reckoning, the BJP is struggling to make a mark in an established Dravidian political ethos. Unlike other states, why is it not so easy for the BJP to make a mark in Tamil Nadu?

While it’s difficult for BJP to make a mark in Tamil Nadu, a person not from politics merged as a rising star in state, the film-star-turned-activist Kamal Hasan is trying his best as he did in movies to make his mark in Tamil Nadu political arena. As people are trying to figure out in the complicated political situations in Tamil Nadu, which side to swing to, Tamilians will have a new option soon, in face of Kamal Hasan who is a big star in film industry.

Only time will tell whose side people take in the coming elections which is scheduled for next year.

Farmers suicide:

(AP Photo/Deepak Sharma)

With an ongoing petition in the Supreme Court on farmer suicides, and a growing clamour for farm loan waivers across several states of the country, the debate on farm suicides in India seems to be heating up once again.

Several commentators and researchers have claimed for long that farmers are the most distressed group in the country as their suicide rates are higher than that of others, based on their analysis of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data. Other researchers have claimed—based on demographic surveys—that farmers are not the most suicide-prone group in the country, and that those who do commit suicide need counselling rather than economic palliatives.

As often happens in a sharply polarized debate, the truth perhaps lies in the middle.

State governments are responsible for this situation to a great extent. Despite their claims of being farmer friendly, the ground reality for farmers involves living a debt-ridden life and ultimately committing suicide. State governments then blame the Centre for not having transferred enough funds and playing party politics. The Centre, on the other hand, puts forward the argument that states have not made proper utilisation of the funds. Thus, the blame game goes on and on.

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