A Year In Politics: Looking Back At 2022

A Year In Politics: Looking Back At 2022

by Swarajya Staff - Monday, December 26, 2022 03:12 PM IST
A Year In Politics: Looking Back At 2022Political headlines in 2022 revolved around these faces.
  • A non-exhaustive list of the most important political headlines from 2022.

    What were yours?

1. Pro-incumbency Vote In BJP's Favour

PM Narendra Modi and UP CM Yogi Adityanath
PM Narendra Modi and UP CM Yogi Adityanath

In the first quarter of 2022, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) successfully retained power in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Manipur and Uttarakhand.

For the first time in the state's history, a party was elected for a second successive term in Uttarakhand. The BJP was voted back into power, highlighting people’s preference for its “double engine ki sarkar”.

In UP, the BJP faced competition from the Samajwadi Party (SP). Although the BJP won fewer seats than it did in 2017, its vote share increased by 1.62 per cent. The SP consolidated the anti-BJP vote share, increasing its share by more than 10 per cent, while the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) struggled in third place and the Congress came in fourth.

Goa witnessed a multi-polar election, which ended up benefitting the incumbent BJP. This time, buoyed by victory in the West Bengal elections, Trinamool Congress (TMC) jumped into the poll fray. However, the party failed to open its seat tally, further demonstrating its limited appeal outside of West Bengal.

The major factors contributing to the BJP's victories in these elections were the people's desire for continuity over uncertainty, as well as women voting for the BJP in large numbers.

2. AAP Sweeps Punjab; Concerns Over Law And Order Situation

AAP’s Bhagwant Mann (Keshav Singh/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
AAP’s Bhagwant Mann (Keshav Singh/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) swept the polls in Punjab elections, as the incumbent Congress failed to get its house in order before the polls.

After Captain Amarinder Singh's resignation as chief minister, the new CM, Charanjit Singh Channi, installed by the Congress high command, lost both the seats he contested — Chamkaur Sahib and Bhadaur.

AAP won the elections with Bhagwant Mann as its chief ministerial candidate. However, AAP's victory also raised concerns about the party's alleged closeness to supporters of the Khalistani movement and the potential impact on the state's law and order.

Shortly after AAP's win, the assassination of popular Punjabi singer Sidhu Moosewala in Mohali caused widespread shock and raised concerns about the grim security situation in the state.

The AAP government’s honeymoon also seemed short-lived as it lost the Lok Sabha by-poll in Sangrur seat vacated by CM Bhagwant Mann. The seat was won by Simranjit Singh Mann of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), a known advocate of the Khalistan movement.

3. J&K Delimitation

Union Home Minister Amit Shah
Union Home Minister Amit Shah

The much awaited delimitation exercise was completed in Jammu and Kashmir, paving the way for elections in the newly-formed Union territory.

The Jammu and Kashmir Delimitation Commission submitted its final report on 5 May 2022, two years after it was assigned to redraw the electoral boundaries in the region in accordance with the mandate set by the Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019.

In its order, the three-member panel added six additional assembly seats for the Jammu region and one for the Kashmir valley.

Additionally, nine assembly constituencies have been reserved for Scheduled Tribes (STs), with six located in Jammu and the remaining three in the valley. It is worth noting that the Constitution of the former state of Jammu and Kashmir did not provide for the reservation of seats for STs in the legislative assembly.

The commission also recommended the reservation of two seats for Kashmiri migrants, especially Kashmiri Pandits, and the nomination of representatives of people displaced from Pakistan Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (POJK) and settled in Jammu and Kashmir to the assembly.

4. Change of Guard in Tripura

Tripura Chief Minister, Manik Saha
Tripura Chief Minister, Manik Saha

Prior to the assembly elections in Tripura in 2023, the BJP underwent a leadership change in Tripura.

There had been conflicts and power struggles among senior leaders within the party's state unit, which had left the party cadre demoralised and unsure of the future. These differences between party leaders had also harmed the BJP's reputation.

In response, the party's central leadership intervened and asked the current Chief Minister, Biplab Deb, to resign in May 2022. He was replaced by Manik Saha, who had proven himself as a competent leader as the state president and was known for being more reserved and likable.

5. Realignment in Maharashtra Politics

Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis (Maha CMO)
Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis (Maha CMO)

In the middle of 2022, Maharashtra politics witnessed a major realignment bringing back the BJP and Shiv Sena together, but without the blessings of the Thackerays.

It began with Rajya Sabha and MLC elections:

  • BJP managed to send all its three candidates to Rajya Sabha while handing a defeat to Shiv Sena candidate amid allegations of cross-voting.

  • A week after, BJP bagged five out of the 10 seats in the MLC elections, while it had enough numbers to win four seats only. It became apparent that apart from the independents, some of the Shiv Sena MLAs too have voted for the BJP candidates.

Shiv Sena’s Eknath Shinde was the man behind the rebellion.

He brought 40 MLAs by his side, beat the anti-defection law, and the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government collapsed.

It was widely expected that Shinde and the MLAs with him would support a new BJP government in the state, led by Devendra Fadnavis.

However, in a decision that was described by the epithet 'masterstroke', Fadnavis announced in a press meet that it would be Eknath Shinde who would be taking over as CM, while he would sit out.

It would take a public appeal by BJP president J P Nadda and private conversations by the topmost BJP leadership to convince Fadnavis to join the government as a deputy chief minister.

With this re-alignment of political forces in Maharashtra, the anomaly of two Hindutva-driven forces being on opposite sides of the political divide in Maharashtra seems to have been resolved.

6. Arrest Of Senior TMC Leaders

Abhishek Banerjee and Partha Chatterjee (Facebook)
Abhishek Banerjee and Partha Chatterjee (Facebook)

The Trinamool Congress in West Bengal has been facing numerous corruption charges, which have significantly harmed the party's reputation.

The party chief, Mamata Banerjee, seems to have gone on a backfoot with her close aids and the party’s senior leaders behind bars on charges of corruption.

The arrest of senior minister Partha Chatterjee in July and the discovery of a large amount of cash and jewellery at the residence of his lady associate dealt a significant blow to the Trinamool.

Additionally, revelations of irregularities in the recruitment of teaching and non-teaching staff in government schools under Chatterjee's supervision, as well as the involvement of other Trinamool members in a cash-for-jobs scandal, put the party on the defensive.

Few weeks down the line, a cattle smuggling scandal resulted in the arrest of Anubrata Mondal, a close ally of Banerjee, and as investigations by central agencies continue, it is expected that more information about wrongdoing within the Trinamool will come to light.

The investigation into the illegal coal mining and coal smuggling rackets, which involves multiple agencies, is making progress too and it is suspected that it may name Banerjee's nephew and heir apparent, Abhishek Banerjee, as a primary suspect.  

7. Nitish Kumar Jumps Ship, Again

Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar.
Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar.

In the August of 2022, Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) chief, Nitish Kumar, once again, jumped ship to shake hands with RJD.

The first time he withdrew from the NDA was in 2013. It is believed that Kumar eyed the post of prime ministers for himself then.

In 2015, he went a step further and stitched an alliance with the RJD and Congress for the Bihar elections and won decisively.

However, within two years, Kumar left Mahagathbandhan to join the BJP once again and retained his chief ministership.

In the 2020 elections, the BJP and JD(U) went into the Bihar Assembly election as allies and emerged victorious. However, this time, BJP, at 74 seats, secured more seats than the JD(U), which won only 43. The BJP’s central leadership, however, decided to back Kumar as the Chief Minister, ignoring the demands of its state unit.

Come 2022, however, Kumar once again jumped ship and allied with the RJD, with Lalu Yadav's son, Tejaswi, returning as his deputy.

There are speculations that Kumar is trying to position himself as the leader of a potential alliance against the BJP for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

However, at present, he faces pressure to relinquish his role as the Chief Minister in favour of Tejaswi Yadav, even as the state of Bihar returns to the era of ‘jungle raj’.

8. Mulayam Singh Passes Away 

SP leader, the late Mulayam Singh Yadav and BJP leader, Amit Shah in 2014 (Ajay Aggarwal/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
SP leader, the late Mulayam Singh Yadav and BJP leader, Amit Shah in 2014 (Ajay Aggarwal/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

The passing of Samajwadi Party patriarch, Mulayam Singh Yadav, in October, at the age of 82 marked the end of an era in Uttar Pradesh politics.

Hailing from an OBC community himself, Mulayam oversaw the shifting of Uttar Pradesh's political centre of gravity towards the Other Backward Classes.

At the national level, while he professed to oppose the BJP in the name of secularism, his actions were more at variance with the Congress, and that too at some critical junctures.

One of his greatest achievements on the national stage came in 1999 when he prevented the formation of a Congress government under Sonia Gandhi, citing her foreign origin.

While the killing of the kar servaks and sadhus in Ayodhya, and the 'Guest House' episode of 1995 symbolised everything that was wrong with his politics, his irreversible impact on the politics and society of his times cannot be denied.

9. Congress's Year Of Reflection

Congress President Rahul Gandhi with party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad at party’s Jan Vedna Sammelan. (Arun Sharma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
Congress President Rahul Gandhi with party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad at party’s Jan Vedna Sammelan. (Arun Sharma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

For Congress, the first half of the year was the time for electoral disappointments and internal upheavals. 

It lost power in Punjab and failed to register an impact in UP, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur polls. A number of party bigwigs, including Ghulam Nabi Azad, Sunil Jakhar, Kapil Sibal, left the sinking ship citing a lack of direction, vision and leadership within the party. 

Heading into self-reflection, the party orchestrated elections for a non-Gandhi party president. At first, Rajasthan CM, Ashok Gehlot, was propped up as the choice of Gandhis for the post. 

However, fearing the loss of his chief ministership to his rival within the party, Sachin Pilot, Gehlot is alleged to have staged a mini-revolt wherein Congress legislators protested against the party's decision to ask him to resign. This effectively ended his bid for the party president position. 

In his place, veteran leader Mallikarjun Kharge was nominated. Kharge defeated Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor in a direct contest for the president's position, becoming the first non-Gandhi to lead the party in 24 years.

In the meantime, Rahul Gandhi began a nationwide foot march called the "Bharat Jodo Yatra." The 3,500-kilometre journey, which began on 7 September from Kanyakumari, was described by Gandhi as a “spiritual journey”.

10. Ban On PFI

Activists of PFI (Qamar Sibtain /India Today Group/Getty Images) Representative image
Activists of PFI (Qamar Sibtain /India Today Group/Getty Images) Representative image

In late September, the Centre imposed a five-year ban on the Popular Front of India (PFI) and several of its associates for their involvement in terror activities.

The ban followed a nationwide crackdown on PFI, which resulted in the arrest of more than a hundred of its members and the seizure of several properties.

The PFI and its associates, affiliates, and fronts were secretly working to radicalise people of the minority community. Some members of the PFI had even joined international terrorist organisations such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The organisation also played a key role in the controversy surrounding hijab in schools in southern India, which led to social unrest. The central government informed the Supreme Court that students who opposed the hijab ban were influenced by the fundamentalist organisation.

11. The Wire-Meta Saga

Wire-Meta Case: The Wire's Editor Varadarajan gave a written complaint to police against Devesh Kumar.
Wire-Meta Case: The Wire's Editor Varadarajan gave a written complaint to police against Devesh Kumar.

October 2022 saw possibly the greatest unravelling of a left-leaning "media" outlet.

It began when The Wire published a report alleging that the IT Cell head of the BJP, Amit Malviya enjoys special privileges with respect to Instagram.

The Wire alleged that the privileges enjoyed by Malviya’s Instagram account were such that if he ‘reported’ a post on the platform, it would be taken down by Instagram, no questions asked.

In support of its claim, The Wire shared screenshots of a supposed internal document of Meta which the news website claimed to have accessed.

What followed was a major takedown of the story by Meta, and of succeeding stories by different experts on social media, including senior Meta executives.

Even the experts that The Wire quoted as verifying the evidence it presented publicly stated that they never carried out any such work for the publication.

Eventually, The Wire retracted all its stories alleging collaboration between Malviya and Meta. It also claimed to file a police case against one of the writers of the stories, Devesh Kumar.

Amit Malviya too sued The Wire for both criminal and civil defamation.

This episode raised serious doubts about the credibility of The Wire's reporting. Over and above this, it laid bare the truth that in contemporary times, outlets like The Wire are far more prone to spreading propaganda, even through fraudulent means, than an average reader might think.

12. Jaishankar Holds Forth Against Western Hypocrisy On Russian Oil

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

During the early days of the Russia-Ukraine war, India faced pressure from the West to denounce Russia and sever all trade and diplomatic ties.

However, India's External Affairs Minister, Dr S Jaishankar, repeatedly reminded the West that India would deal with each country on its own terms.

The war has had a significant impact on global inflation and global supply chains. Between the first and second quarters of 2022, oil prices more than doubled, leading to concerns that crude could reach $150 per barrel.

Global inflation, driven by high oil prices, also impacted the economies of Western countries. For more vulnerable economies, inflation has been devastating.

In India, inflation rose from 6.3 per cent to 7.8 per cent and has made the government emphasise on the importance of securing its energy interests first.

Dr Jaishankar played a leading role in this effort, systematically challenging Western hypocrisy when it came to India's imports of Russian crude oil.

In interviews, he questioned the narrative that India's purchase of Russian crude was "funding the war", and pointed out that if Germany's purchase of Russian gas was not considered "funding the war", then why was it wrong for India to do the same.

He also noted that if Europe could impose new sanctions on Russia but exempt hydrocarbons in order to avoid burdens on its citizens, then why was it not acceptable for India to do the same.

13. Gujarat Scripts History

BJP supporters celebrating a party victory in Gujarat
BJP supporters celebrating a party victory in Gujarat

The BJP won in Gujarat for the seventh consecutive time. However, this time the party won an impressive 156 out of 182 seats in the election, with a 53 per cent vote share. This was the highest number of seats won by a political party in the history of Gujarat.

The victory was an endorsement of the party's 'Gujarat model' and Prime Minister Modi's continuing popularity in the state.

In this election, the BJP made history by winning all 27 reserved seats in the tribal belt for the first time. The party also maintained its strong base in urban seats and expanded its presence in Saurashtra and Kutch, winning an additional 26 seats.

Overall, the BJP's massive victory in Gujarat, following its win in Uttar Pradesh in 2022, set the stage for the party's bid in the Lok Sabha polls in 2024.

14. Rise Of Annamalai In Tamil Nadu Politics

Annamalai speaking to a large crowd of protesters.
Annamalai speaking to a large crowd of protesters.

It was in 2022 that K Annamalai, the state party president of the BJP in Tamil Nadu and a former IPS officer, cemented his place as the pre-eminent opposition to the DMK.

This was brought about at the back of aggressive posturing and ability to stand his ground amidst a hostile media narrative.

While it remains to be seen whether the BJP would gain electoral traction under Annamalai's leadership, the 2024 Lok Sabha elections will provide early indications of the party's momentum. The real test will be the state assembly election scheduled for 2026.

However, it has become clear in recent months that the BJP has emerged as the second most significant ideological force in Tamil politics, challenging the dominant Dravidian narrative.

This shift is visible in the enthusiastic crowds that Annamalai attracts as he travels across the state for various party events and protests. His media interactions, often combative, have received significant coverage.

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