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30 Dec 2017

#ThatWas2017: Modi's consolidation to Rahul's makeover, Indian politics didn't disappoint!

What happened in Indian politics in 2017?

Like a Hindi blockbuster, there is never a dull moment in Indian politics.

This year, there was drama: after "Amma" Jayalalithaa died, aides fought over succession.

There was emotion: "Friends" Lalu Prasad-Nitish Kumar and Shiv Sena-BJP turned "foes".

And, entertainment too: Just when we were giving up on "underdog" Rahul, he made a comeback.

Let's look at events that dominated Indian politics in 2017.

In context

What happened in Indian politics in 2017?
Gorakhpur's head priest became CM of India's most populous state

Yogi Adityanath

Gorakhpur's head priest became CM of India's most populous state

In March'17, BJP swept UP winning 227 of 403 assembly seats. It routed the SP-Congress combine after a high-octane campaign centered on demonetization. However, the real surprise was yet to come.

Gorakhpur temple's head priest Yogi Adityanath was announced CM. This appointment raised eyebrows as this five-time MP was known for aggressive Hindutva politics. This appointment proved PM Modi's commitment to the Hindutva cause

Nitish Kumar

Nitish ditched the Mahagathbandhan, joined NDA

In neighboring Bihar, CM Nitish Kumar staged an elaborate spectacle.

In 2015 assembly elections, the Mahagathbandhan comprising of Lalu's RJD, Nitish's JD(U) and Congress managed to wrest power after beating BJP.

However, cracks emerged after Lalu was embroiled in corruption cases. On "moral grounds," Nitish quit the mahagathbandhan.

He formed a new government in Bihar with ally BJP, leaving the opposition in a lurch.

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Dull RS election turned nail-biting with Congress's Ahmed Patel winning

Ahmed Patel

Dull RS election turned nail-biting with Congress's Ahmed Patel winning

As Bihar's commotion ended, RS elections witnessed "midnight drama." Sonia Gandhi's political secretary, Ahmed Patel needed 45 MLAs' support to win. But, due to cross-voting, he was one short.

Counting was held up as Congress clamored that two rebel-Congress MLAs had broken voting rules by showing their votes to BJP's Amit Shah.

Finally, at about midnight, EC voted in Congress's favor, with Patel winning.

TN politics

Twists in TN politics made it a soap opera

Meanwhile, down south, after AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa's death, TN became a political theatre.

First, Panneerselvam became CM. Later, he stepped down and rebelled making way for Jayalalithaa's close aide Sasikala, who subsequently went to jail in a corruption case.

She plopped current CM Palaniswami on the CM-seat, after which he patched up with Panneerselvam.

This duo then purged AIADMK of the Sasikala faction. Phew!


Congress changes tact, moves towards soft Hindutva

Considering party-politics, even as Modi's Hindutva led to a BJP wave, Congress rebranded itself.

Congress analyzed its dismal 2014 LS performance. It realized that its "secularism versus communalism" plank was misinterpreted as a pro-minority stance.

Thus, Rahul Gandhi visited 27 temples during Gujarat campaign and claimed to be studying Upanishads/Gita.

This symbolism is termed as "soft Hindutva." Will it work for Congress?


BJP's winning streak scared the opposition

However, despite Congress's re-branding, BJP now rules in 19 states.

In 2017, it registered comfortable Uttarakhand and UP wins.

However, it was Goa and Manipur where their aggression paid off. Though there was no clear mandate, Congress had more seats. But, BJP rushed into timely strategic alliances, forming government in both the states.

BJP's year ended with Himachal and Gujarat wins.

Rahul Gandhi goes from being Pappu to President!


Rahul Gandhi goes from being Pappu to President!

Even Congress ended 2017 on a high note, finally witnessing the long-awaited generational change. Rahul Gandhi took over Congress's reins from mother Sonia by being declared president "unanimously."

His image-makeover also made news. It began with "eloquent" answers at American universities.

His cheeky Twitter-handle and combative approach towards Modi was a change for voters.

Like we said, never a dull moment in Indian politics.

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