The year 2014 has witnessed a transformation in India’s political guard with BJP unseating the Congress by notching up 281 of the 545 Lok Sabha seats. Narendra Modi was sworn in as the country’s 15th Prime Minister. BJP dominated while Congress ended with low. There are many new political equations that have cropped this year. All tainted ministers of ‘corrupt’ parties joined BJP to defeat Congress and fulfilled Modi’s Congress Mukt Bharat’s dream. Last year can also be called as the year of ‘social media proliferation’, where micro-blogging sites became more than just an active audience engagement platform. Political leaders got new online nickname in 2014. Modi been called as ‘Feku’, Kejriwal as ‘Bhagoda’ whereas Rahul Gandhi got ‘Pappu’ as their nicknames.
The states of Jharkahand, Maharashtra and Haryana witnessed a regime change and Jammu and Kashmir saw a hung Parliament in the recent assembly elections. On the other hand, some regional parties like Shiv Sena, had to struggle and establish their own strength by breaking the alliance with old political parties. A pleasant surprise of the year was child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi being conferred the Nobel Laureate. Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has been nominated for “Bharat Ratna,” one of the prestigious awards of India.
Issues related to minority communities grabbed headlines in 2014 as some Hindu groups and leaders raked up subjects like ‘love-jihad’ and ‘ghar-wapsi’ but Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla preferred not to read too much into these controversies. National Commission for Minorities, however, took up the issue of MPs like Yogi Adityanath and Sakshi Maharaj targeting Muslims over ‘love-jihad’ and terrorism and wrote to Home Minister Rajnath Singh in September, urging him to probe their utterances as these “violated” provisions of the Constitution.
The NCM’s action came in the wake of criticism of the government by noted jurist Fali S Nariman for not doing anything to stop such hate-speeches targeting the minority community. He had also chided the commission for its silence and not performing its job. Heptulla, however, blamed Opposition parties for playing up ‘love-jihad’. She said even inter-castes marriages spark outrage in society and termed it a social issue and not something between Hindus and Muslims.
The ministry, however, insisted that its developmental work moved on at a fast pace as it adopted a multi-pronged strategy with focus on education, economic and women empowerment, area development, progress of vulnerable minority communities and strengthening of minority institutions.
During the financial year 2014-15, as on December 23, under scholarship schemes (pre and post-matric based scholarship) for students from minority communities, it has released over Rs 1244 crore of budgeted Rs. 2033 crore, it said. About 49 per cent of annual plan budget of the Ministry is used on scholarship and fellowship programmes.
Gallows to the December 16 gangrape convicts and high profile matters relating to defamation, bribery allegations, overseas funding of major political parties and policy issues kept the Delhi High Court busy in 2014 during which Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul also sought relief in the National Herald case.
The Gandhis, who were trying to come to terms with Congress’ debacle in the general elections, suffered another rude shock after they were summoned as accused by a trial court in the alleged misappropriation of party fund for acquisition of Herald, after which they approached the high court which stayed the order. The case against them and Congress treasurer Moti Lal Vora, General Secretary Oscar Fernandes, Sam Pitroda and Suman Dubey was lodged by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy who also opposed the Tata-AirAsia venture which was cleared by the UPA-II government.
Others close to the Gandhi camp, who got relief from the High Court were Sonia’s son-in-law Robert Vadra and her close aide Vincent George with former getting success in avoiding court-monitored probe in various land deals and the latter winning an appeal to set aside a 13-year-old disproportionate assets case against him. Congress leaders like Rasheed Masood and former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, who also moved the high court, however, did not get the relief they had sought.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and its chief Arvind Kejriwal, who governed Delhi for 49 days, were also embroiled in cases over allegations of defamatory remarks, foreign funding, exceeding poll expenses and using forged papers for registering the party, made against them by rivals, including BJP. The convicts in high profile criminal cases too had a tough time in the high court which did not spare gallows to the four convicts in the December 16 gang-rape case apart from holding D P Yadav’s son and nephew guilty of killing Nitish Katara. The Delhi government’s education department also faced the brunt of the high court which set aside its 2013 nursery admission guidelines and said that schools should have autonomy to decide the criteria for admitting children.
Pleas for CBI probe into allegations of corruption and bribery against Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh as well as for quashing the order setting aside the Election Commission’s decision holding former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan guilty of filing incorrect expenses for the 2009 Assembly polls are pending before the High Court.
Major pharma companies as well as international mobile phone manufacturers also approached the High Court over patent and trademark infringements as well as policies of the Centre.
Another old issue that the High Court decided on whether the money received by three former Jharkhand Mukti Morcha MPs and party chief Shibu Soren for voting in favour of the P V Narasimha Rao government in 1993 was liable to be taxed. The court answered it in the affirmative.
Year ended with all brains fighting among themselves. PK which is doing well at the box office has been getting mixed reactions from audiences for its content. While some have slammed it, saying it mocks Hindu traditions, others have appreciated it and termed it as the ‘best film of the year 2014’. Opposing and supporting the film is nothing but two sides of the same coin. In fact, the best quote was given in the film O MY God! by Mithun Chakraborty, don’t take their GOD, or else they will make you GOD. Same happened with Mahavir and Buddha, each started as a different religion. Rajkumar Hirani’s films always have messages on which one can think about. You may agree or disagree; you may like or dislike the film, that’s a different thing. However, his films will make you think. Let individual in their own capacity find out the truth. This film is fuelling the ego of all socialites, as they feel that the religion they are following is best.
Anyway, last year was mixed with all major and minor changes. It’s better to welcome New Year with all expected outcomes.
We have entered another year in journalism. Last year, we received quite few awards for keeping parallel journalism alive in India. We also gave awards to all deserving people under our banner. Our newspaper has reached another height of popularity. And you people (our readers) made it possible. Let say, Good Bye 2014, Welcome 2015
Wishing you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year.