Next year will be one that will test sabka vishwas to the maximum, predicts Aditi Phadnis.
IMAGE: President Droupadi Murmu during a tri-service staff honor guard at Rashtrapati Bhavan Esplanade in New Delhi on July 25, 2022. Photo: Atul Yadav/PTI Photo
If politics in 2022 were to be defined by faces, three would immediately stand out, for the change they represent for India in the years to come.
The year began (February) with elections in five states, including Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.
Many analysts say that the Uttar Pradesh election, which resulted in a second term for the current Bharatiya Janata Party government led by Yogi Adityanath, showed a new trend that would be repeated later in the year in the Gujarat election, 00 one vote. for ownership suggesting that the Indians were evaluating and rewarding performance over government color.
It was the Punjab election that launched the first face of 2022: the seemingly unstoppable rise of Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi’s chief minister, leader of the Aam Aadmi Party and disruptive extraordinaire.
By voting to install a lesser-known party in power in a state facing general crisis, Punjab announced to the world that it had had enough of the politics of the ‘establishment’ of Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal.
He fell for the lure of free health facilities, free education, unemployment benefits for female-headed families and the ‘Delhi model’ of government, without giving much thought to how these programs would be financed.
Kejriwal put there, in the public domain, a challenge to the notion of ‘more governance less government’ coined by the BJP by arguing that government and governance are inseparable.
AAP would report a strong performance later in the year in Gujarat garnering 13 per cent of the votes cast and five MLAs, the highest ever achieved by a third party in a traditional bipolar state.
That should worry both Congress and the BJP, turning Kejriwal’s novelty into a new political threat.
IMAGE: Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann and Aam Aadmi Party National Coordinator Arvind Kejriwal in Amritsar. Photography: ANI Photo
Elections to five states were followed by the election of the President of India.
The election of Droupadi Murmu, the first female tribal leader, established the BJP’s influence over a community that had seen the work and power of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, but had (largely) voted in Congress.
Murmu’s election means many things: A new definition of tribal identity, as Murmu changed his tribal name by adopting the name of a Sanskrit deity from the Hindu pantheon; but also because she, as governor, opposed a BJP-led government in Jharkhand trying to divert forest land for industry.
The action reflected not only their own tribal identity but also the BJP’s understanding of community rights.
The ambassador of a Western country stationed in India said: “There is no country in the world that does ceremonies like India. When I first saw President Murmu, he was a metaphor for India to me: the bright lights and the crystal chandeliers of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, its pageantry and pageantry, and in the midst of it all, a tiny woman in a white sari, in this enormous velvet chair, watching the proceedings without blinking, unfazed by the grandeur and enlivened by the thousands. years of wisdom from his ancestors…it was very impressive.”
The electoral outcome of Murmu’s nomination will be seen in 2023 when states with significant tribal populations like Madhya Pradesh (21 percent), Rajasthan (13 percent) and northeastern states like Nagaland and Meghalaya (86 percent) go to the elections. surveys.
IMAGE: Congress Leader Sonia Gandhi with Party Chairman Mallikarjun Kharge in Rajghat. Photo: Atul Yadav/PTI Photo
The year 2022 saw the launch of another face: In opposition.
Mallikarjun Kharge was elected president of the Congress, pending a plenary session in 2023.
She replaced Sonia Gandhi, whose entry into politics took place on December 29, 1997, heralded by a note that was taken from her official residence, 10, Janpath, to the All India Congress Committee headquarters, next door, to be handed over to the then Congress President, Sitaram Kesri. .
The brief communication conveyed Gandhi’s willingness to campaign for Congress in the Lok Sabha elections that were held in early 1998.
Since then, the top seat in Congress has been held by a member of the Nehru-Gandhi family, prompting ridicule that it is nothing more than a family business.
As the party lost many elections and faced declining vote share, agitated congressmen, fearing an existential threat, turned up the pressure for a ‘full-time president’.
Kharge was seen as the family’s choice for president and ran in the election; he won it by getting more than 80 percent of the vote.
The congressmen wanted a charismatic and eloquent speaker who could match Narendra Modi in public speaking.
Kharge might find it hard to match that standard.
The party also wanted a man as president who would be available to them, who would be their own man and not just a representative of the family and the group around her.
In this, so far, a disappointment has resulted.
An earlier decision passed down by his secretariat, that he would sit in the congressional office at least once a week to be available to workers, has not materialized.
He previously resigned as Opposition leader in the Rajya Sabha, in deference to the one man, one post principle, but has chosen to remain in both posts.
And when Congress won the assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh, it was MP Rahul Gandhi who called on the 40 elected MLAs to join the Bharat Jodo Yatra, not party chairman Mallikarjun Kharge.
With the Lok Sabha elections 18 months away, who in Congress will be the authority to make strategic decisions, such as running a Congress candidate against a BJP candidate, how much to concede in the states to achieve this goal, etc.? Nothing is clear.
“What we should be doing is saying: we will fight in the Lok Sabha elections to defeat the BJP; we can decide the prime ministerial candidate later. What we will probably say is: make Rahul Gandhi prime minister and set the country right,” he said a former minister of the Congress Union.
As India witnesses the inauguration of a new Parliament building, hosts the G20 and Shanghai Cooperation Organization meetings and celebrates the President of Egypt on January 26, 2023, it promises to be a year of outward looking India. .
But the growing internal tensions between the communities cannot be ignored.
Next year will be one that will test sabka vishwas to the extreme.