As 2016 draws to a close let us stop and reflect on the politics and political developments that shaped the country this year. The highlights of the political landscape in 2016 was the state Legislative Assembly elections held in important states including Assam, West Bengal, and Tamil Nadu. The central government and ruling party BJP drew flak for the imposition of Article 356 in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, and later attracted mixed results for its demonetization drive. Here are the top political events of this year.
Kejriwal Imposes Odd-Even Rule
In an effort to combat the alarming levels of air pollution in the national capital, Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and the AAP government first implemented the odd-even formula between January 1 and January 15, 2016. This is a driving restriction based on the license plate number where some groups such as women have been given exemptions. Though much criticized, the move has met some success and was again implemented from 15 April to 30 April.
Mufti Mohammad Sayeed Passes Away
On January 7, 2016, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed passed away after being admitted to the Delhi’s AIIMS hospital. Sayeed had served two terms as the state’s CM and had also been India’s Home Minister between December 1989 and November 1990. With his passing, his daughter Mehbooba Mufti Sayeed took over as the state’s CM. Mehbooba Mufti is also the president of the J&K People’s Democratic Party and the state’s first woman CM.
President’s Rule Imposed in Uttarakhand
Article 356 made it to the headlines quite often this year – first when the President’s Rule was implemented in Arunachal Pradesh early this year, and later again, when it was implemented in Uttarakhand in March 2016. The reason – a constitutional breakdown and a deep divide in the ruling party of Uttarakhand – seemed rather flimsy. In May 2016, however, Congress was reinstated but only after much political turmoil.
BJP Storms Assam
For years now, most of the north eastern states, particularly Assam, have been the unassailable strongholds of the Congress party. BJP started to make its presence felt in the 1994 general elections, but the Legislative Assembly elections held in on April 4 and April 11, 2016 brought a very surprising result. With an turnout of over 84 percent (highest ever in the state) BJP made a clean sweep winning 86 of the 126 seats polled. Sarbananda Sonowal was sworn in as the CM of a state which had only known Congress rule for the last 15 years.
Mamata Banerjee Starts Second Innings as West Bengal CM
Another state which went to polls in 2016 was West Bengal. The All India Trinamool Congress again won the state Legislative Assembly elections in style bagging 211 of the 294 seats polled. West Bengal Vidhan Sabha elections were held in phases through April and May 2016, and the results were declared on May 19. Party Chief Mamata Banerjee stepped up again and took over as Chief Minister for a second term.
Amma’s Comeback in TN
Thwarting the anti-incumbency legacy of Tamil Nadu politics, J Jayalalithaa managed to steer the AIADMK towards a victory in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly election, 2016. The polls were held on May 16, 2016, for the 232 seats, of which AIADMK managed to secure 136. Despite the fact that her populist schemes managed to return her to the CM’s office for a fifth term, AIADMK fared worse than it did in the 2011 elections.
Gujarat CM Anandiben Resigns
Starting in 2015, the Patidar reservation agitation has been the cause of much unrest in the western state of Gujarat. Hardik Patel emerged as one of the leaders of the Patel youth demanding quota reservations in the state. The ruling BJP party faced a great deal of criticism on the way the protests were handled and the bulk of it was directed at CM Anandiben Patel. Ms Patel resigned from the office on August 1, 2016.
PM Voices Anti-Gau Raksha Views
Breaking his silence over an issue that has dogged Indian society for some time now, Prime Minister Narendra Modi came down heavily on Gau Rakshaks and called them anti-socials. He urged states to take action against those who indulged in criminal activities in the name of Gau Raksha. With this statement made on August 6, 2016, the menace of Gau Raksha that had taken gigantic proportions started to fizzle out.
Cauvery Water Dispute
The Cauvery water dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu is not a new one. But matters came to a head in September 2016 when Supreme Court ordered Karnataka state government to release 15,000 cusecs a day for a fortnight to Tamil Nadu. Karnataka refused and observed a bandh in protest. As more protests broke out many parts of Bangalore came under Section 144.
WB CM Accuses Army of Coup
In what came as a shocker, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee accused the Indian Army of staging a coup on December 1, 2016. Turns out she was objecting to the presence of Army personnel in highway toll booths of the state. Banerjee stayed in her office for over 30 hours till the forces were removed. Her accusations drew flak from various corners. The central government produced evidence that the state had been informed of routine exercises being conducted. The Defence Minister said that wild accusations only served to demoralize the armed forces.
Amma No More
On December 5, 2016, after about 75 days of hospitalization and treatment Selvi J Jayalalithaa, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu breathed her last. The state was plunged into a state of grief at the passing of one of its most popular leaders. Thousands gathered to pay Jayalalithaa their last salutation. Her death has caused a political crisis and a power struggle in the state and in the AIADMK.
‘Cho’ Ramaswamy Passes Away
Just over a day after Jayalalithaa’s demise, senior political analyst, satirist, and journalist Srinivasa Iyer ‘Cho’ Ramaswamy, passed away in Chennai on December 7, 2016. Cho’s Thuglak magazine shaped the political views of the masses in south India for many decades. He was the first analyst to suggest Modi’s candidature for the PM’s office. He is often referred to as Jayalalithaa’s ‘Chanakya’ and Modi’s ‘Rajguru’.