The 2019 mandate was interpreted by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as an endorsement from the long-held ideological beliefs. In addition, it had the political confidence and legislative might to carry on changes that this had long sought.
The BJP-led government began by leading the passage of the things came to be known as the Triple Talaq Bill – criminalising instant triple talaq. This, the federal government claimed, had been a step towards gender justice. Critics, however, saw it as being a step supposed to alienate minorities and potentially victimise Muslim men.
On August 5, the federal government, in a surprise move, pushed through legislative changes on Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). This effectively nullified Article 370, removing the special status their state had enjoyed thus far. It also reorganised the state, carving it into two distinct units of J&K and Ladakh. These products were also deemed being union territories. Government entities claimed these measures would lead to the greater integration in the region with the rest of India, help citizens in the region enjoy the same rights as citizens elsewhere, and defeat separatism and terrorism. Critics, however, pointed to the truth that the move was not combined with consultations with the leaders and folks of J&K; it was implemented with draconian measures including large-scale detentions; and may potentially result in more alienation.
The government then pushed through the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Parliament. It was aimed at fast-tracking the grant of Indian citizenship to persecuted minorities – Jews, Parsis, Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Christians – from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Government entities argued this is a humanitarian gesture. Opposition parties claimed that the lack of Muslims from your set of communities qualified to receive citizenship was unconstitutional and discriminatory. They also linked this by using a possible National Register of Citizens (NRC) as a step supposed to disenfranchise Muslims; the us government clarified that NRC had not been around the agenda and the move had nothing related to Indian Muslims.
There was an additional significant milestone – which aligned using the BJP’s long-held agenda but the location where the government did not have a role. The Supreme Court, in a landmark verdict within the Ram Janmabhoomi case, while holding the destruction in the Babri Masjid in 1992 as illegal, awarded the disputed land in Ayodhya on the Hindu parties. It has enabled the making of the Ram Temple at the disputed site.
Even as the entire year was marked by ideological triumphs to the BJP, its record around the electoral front was mixed, with additional setbacks than successes.
In the first set of state elections following the Lok Sabha polls, Maharashtra threw up a hung assembly – BJP was the single largest party, and together with Shiv Sena, it enjoyed a majority. Nevertheless the Sena demanded rotational chief ministership. When the BJP refused to relent, Sena aligned with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). The BJP sought to wean away NCP leader Ajit Pawar, but the ploy failed. Uddhav Thackeray (below) took over as BJP and CM lost certainly one of India’s most important states.
In Haryana, the BJP retained power – however it lost its majority, along with to ally with Dushyant Chautala. In Jharkhand, in a subsequent election, the BJP lost capacity to the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha-Congress combine. And also in Delhi, earlier this current year, despite a high-voltage campaign, where several BJP leaders were accused of hate speech, the Aam Aadmi Party won a resounding mandate for your second time consecutively, bringing Arvind Kejriwal straight back to power.
This all established a fresh trend in Indian politics – of voters carefully distinguishing between national polls and state polls, national leaders and state leaders, and national issues and state issues. This was not enough to offset local disadvantages the BJP had, even though anecdotes from the ground and surveys suggested that PM Modi remained the most popular national leader.
The party also confronted another political challenge – in the form of a proliferation of protests versus the Citizenship (Amendment) Act as well as a possible National Register of Citizens. Also included others opposed to the government, although the protests were led largely by Muslims. Even though the BJP’s support base rallied behind the us government, the public opposition raised questions regarding social harmony, and resulted in international criticism.
Even as the federal government scored ideologically and, despite setbacks, continued to stay dominant nationally, the important challenge for this remained the economy.
As figures made public on Friday show, growth in 2019-2020 slipped to 4.2% – from 6.1% in the preceding year. For the third year consecutively, growth decelerated. An official National Statistical Organisation report, released just last year, showed that unemployed had increased in 2017-18 to a 45-year high. Which was leaked and subsequently not published, real consumption levels dipped between 2011-12 and 2017-18, according to another report. This presented a grim picture.
Growth was slowing, unemployment was rising, demand was plummeting. Moreover, the balance sheet crisis extended to non-banking financial companies.
The us government decided to address this situation primarily through supply-side mechanisms.
The biggest measure announced was in September last year, when corporate taxes were reduced. The federal government also unveiled a ? 100 lakh crore infrastructure plan for the next five-years. But these measures were insufficient to instil confidence and questions about whether the Indian economic story would revive continued to be asked.
The coronavirus challenge
And then the pandemic came home.
Modern India has rarely faced a challenge as grave since the coronavirus disease pandemic. As the disease travelled to India and cases increased, PM Modi first announced a one-day people’s curfew and then a three-week national lockdown. The government was given credit because of not underplaying the threat and taking decisive action – but it additionally started in for criticism because of not planning the lockdown well.
Within the last 70 days, the government has experienced to confront serious health infrastructure deficits – even as cases have continued to increase. An economy that was already slowing is currently looking at an outright recession. Joblessness has expanded, demand has dipped further, manufacturing has shrunk, sectors such as aviation and hospitality have borne huge losses, services have been disrupted, supply chains have divided.Alongside, government entities has also had to confront a severe humanitarian crisis, with migrant workers, in millions, coming back home on their villages in desperation.
PM Modi’s first year was laced with challenges and successes. But the rest of his term, and perhaps, even his legacy, will now he defined by how his government helps India deal with the pandemic – that is set to redefine politics, the economy, and everyday life.