These events did not just impact the political landscape in this outgoing year, but will also have a bearing in the coming year
- Farmers’ protest against farm laws
Farmers from several states, prominently across North India, stayed put on Delhi borders for over a year before the Narendra Modi government, in a major climbdown, announced the withdrawal of the three contentious farm laws. The protests turned into the focal point of national politics with the opposition parties coming out in support of the farmers.
- Lakhimpur Kheri Violence
On October 3, eight people, including four farmers, died after being mowed down by an SUV allegedly belonging to Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra Teni’s son Ashish Mishra in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur district. Ashish, along with 12 others, were arrested after the Supreme Court pulled up the Yogi Adityanath government over the inaction against the accused.
The incident, which received nationwide condemnation and turned into one of the year’s biggest political issue, is being probed by a Special Investigation Team which has claimed that it was a “pre-planned conspiracy and not a negligent act”.
- Aryan Khan drugs case
The arrest of Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in connection with the Mumbai drugs-on-cruise case immediately grabbed attention and soon escalated into a political issue, especially in Maharashtra.
The Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government in Maharashtra alleged that the BJP-led central government was misusing the NCB, along with other central agencies, as part of a political vendetta. State minister Nawab Malik kicked off an offensive against NCB zonal director Sameer Wankhede, bringing extorting charges against him, apart from several other irregularities in the functioning of the central agency.
- Assembly polls in five states
The BJP’s desperate attempts to make inroads into Mamata Banerjee’s turf turned futile as the Trinamool Congress won 213 out of the 294 assembly seats. The saffron party, however, became the main opposition party in the state bagging 77 seats. The poll results came as a shot in the arm for Banerjee, who has been trying to expand her party’s footprints nationally.
In Tamil Nadu, the MK Stalin-led defeated the AIADMK-BJP alliance to end their decade-long rule. In Kerala, the incumbent LDF retained power with 99 seats, endi g the longstanding tradition of the state ruled by alternate governments. In Assam and Puducherry, the BJP-led NDA managed to retain power.
5. Infighting in Congress-ruled states
Already struggling with a leadership vacuum amid unending poll debacles, the Congress faced infighting within the party cadres in all the three states under its rule – Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. While the party high-command managed to placate the state leadership over the power tussle in Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, the infighting in Punjab stood out prominently through the year.
- Karnataka political crisis
A crisis faced by the BJP-led government in Karnataka culminated with the resignation of BS Yediyurappa as the chief minister on July 26 this year. The resignation came after months of bickering within the party and the growing dissent within the state BJP unit against the CM.
- Pegasus snooping row
The alleged snooping of the mobile phones of political leaders, top judges, media personalities and other eminent people by using the Israel-made Pegasus spyware gave the opposite enough fodder to attack the government. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, ace poll strategist Prashant Kishor, two serving Union Ministers, ex-Election Commissioner, 40 journalists among others were found to be on an alleged leaked list of potential targets.
- Red Fort violence
On January 26, tens of thousands of farmers – protesting against the three contentious farm laws – had clashed with the police in New Delhi during a tractor parade to highlight their demands. Many of them driving tractors reached the Red Fort and entered the monument, where a religious flag was also hoisted. Over 500 police personnel were injured.
- Health crisis during second wave of COVID-19
The second wave of COVID-19 wreaked havoc across the country claiming lakhs of lives while also highlighting the dilapidated condition of health infrastructure. With hospitals flooded with patients, several states struggled with the crisis of beds, oxygen cylinders and other equipment.
- BJP changes chief ministers in four states
The central leadership changed chief ministers in four BJP-ruled states – Gujarat, Karnataka, Uttarakhand and Assam – in its bid to contain the infighting within state units and the anti-incumbency factor building up ahead of assembly elections. While Uttarakhand goes to polls early next year, Karnataka and Gujarat will vote later in 2022.