Wrapping Up the Elections of 2017

Recently, the 20 elected Gujarat ministers took their oaths, including Chief Minister Vijay Rupani. As per reports, 19 of them are crorepatis and 9 of them are high school dropouts. While you evaluate what that means for you and for Indian politics, let me give you a gist of the elections this year.

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2017 has been a year which kept the psephologists of the country on their heels! From high scale elections being held, in panchayat, municipal, state assembly and parliamentary level, it was a year that was to change the political equations across the country as well as to decide the political career and relevance of various political actors. In most of the cases, it was seen as a test for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party to prove that the Modi juggernaut has not yet stopped. More often then not, these elections were seen as a test for the various policies of the ruling National Democratic Front government, with the landmark Demonetisation scheme completing one year on 8th November this year, as well as the implantation of the Goods and Service Taxes legislation coming into effect. The first set of elections took place in the first half of the year, with the states Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Manipur going into polls. While the ruling party BJP, was able to secure clear majority in the North Indian states of UP and Uttarakhand, with record setting stats of winning 325 seats in the largest legislature of the country (Uttar Pradesh), which saw a rise of 278 seats from their earlier tally. Hardliner Yogi Adityanath, the 5 time MP from Gorakhpur was chosen to be the Chief Minister for the state, which also indicated the advent of strong and hardliners in the party’s ranks. In Uttarakhand, the BJP were able to increase their tally by 25 seats to get 57 seats in the 70 seat assembly, which saw Trivendra Singh Rawat be the 8th Chief Minister of the state. In Punjab, a three way contest was underway in which the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-BJP coalition were up against Capt. Amarinder Singh led Congress and the Aam Admi Party. While the ruling coalition tanked, with them wining only 18 seats combines, the AAP too failed to perform and provide the proverbial upset to the Congress, as they won only 20 seats. The Congress, won 77 seats in the 117 member house and formed the government with Amarinder Singh returning to the Chief Minister’s chair. A key highlight of this election was that even though the national vice president of the party Rahul Gandhi had campaigned extensively for the party in the other states, he was kept out of Punjab. The two elections that provided material for controversy were the smaller states of Manipur and Goa. Even though clearly failing to secure majority in these seats, the BJP, with very clever manoeuvring and political play were able to form government in these states, whether with other party MLA joining their fold or by forging alliances. Former Defence Minister of India Manohar Parrikar was called back to the state to resume his role as the Chief Minister, while N. Biren Singh became the chief minister of Manipur. This set of election was followed by the Presidential and Vice-Presidential election of the country. Dalit leader and long time RSS and BJP worker Ram Nath Kovind won the presidential election, winning against former speaker Meira Kumar while long term parliamentarian, minister and BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu took oath as the vice president of India. Another key election that took place in the year was the Rajya Sabha elections from the state of Gujarat, which saw Congress leader Ahmad Patel securing his seat and the BJP tried to have a clean sweep at the seats. That election, which saw Amit Shah getting elected to the Rajya Sabha, saw the Congress taking their Gujarat MLAs and keeping them in a resort down south to avoid horse trading. The year ended with another set of high profile elections, to the states of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. While the BJP secured clear majority in both and went on to form the government, the elections in Gujarat was keenly watched by political observers as the BJP were battling 22 year old anti-incumbency as well as backlash for its GST policy and the Patidar-Dalit-OBC movement. However, BJP has a clear majority and were able to form government. The year ended with another high profile battle, for the R.K. Nagar assembly seat at Tamil Nadu, which was vacated due to the demise of J. Jayalalitha. Overall, the year was very crucial from the political point of view as the elections of this year has been seen as the warm up to the General Elections of 2019.

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