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Major political issues in India – 2015

Indo-Pak talks

Sushma Swaraj

The India-Pakistan talks scheduled in August were abruptly cancelled at the last minute. Pakistan called off the National Security Adviser-level talks saying “it cannot be held on the basis of the preconditions set by India”. New Delhi had made it clear to Islamabad that Sartaj Aziz, its advisor to the Pakistan Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs, was welcome if Pakistan agrees to restrict the talks’ agenda to terror and gives assurance that no meeting will be held with Hurriyat leaders in New Delhi.

But, in a surprise development, the NSAs of two countries met in Bangkok in December and held talks on a range of issues. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj days later traveled to Islamabad and hold talks with the Pakistani leadership, where a decision to restart the bilateral dialogue was taken.

PM Narendra Modi’s foreign visits

Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi travelled to a number of continents and countries during the year. Among them, notably United States, United Kingdom, France, Singapore, Germany, Canada, China, Russia, UAE and Ireland.

During his Germany visit in April, PM Narendra Modi projected the Make in India lion as a “symbol of new India” and a “national movement” and told the audience at the Hannover Messe – the world’s biggest trade fair – that his government has moved “with speed, resolve and boldness” to create a stable economic environment, including by opening up FDI in insurance, defence and railways, building a stable tax regime and assured protection of Intellectual Property.

During Modi’s highly-successful Canada visit in April, a new chapter was added to Indo-Canada ties when the latter agreed to supply uranium to power India’s civilian nuclear programme for five years.

During PM Modi’s visit to China in May, India and China agreed to seek a “political” solution to the border dispute at the earliest. During the visit, PM Modi also announced CBMs like e-visa for Chinese tourists and operationalisation of hotline between the two militaries.

Modi also met Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of BRICS Summit in July in Ufa.

PM Modi visited Ireland briefly in September – the first visit to the country by an Indian leader in 59 years.

In September, Prime Minister Narendra Modi travelled to the United States where he addressed the Leaders` Summit on Peacekeeping hosted by US President Barack Obama in New York. He also held bilateral talks with President Obama and discussed several issues, including stepping up economic engagement and climate change, during their third meeting in about a year. Modi also travelled to the Silicon Valley and met top IT CEOs of the region. He also addressed Indian-Americans at the SAP Centre in San Jose.

In November, Modi travelled to the United Kingdom and wowed everyone with his presence. He also repeated a ‘Madison Square Garden’ at Wembley by addressing the expatriate population there.

Nagaland peace accord

The Government of India and Naga militant group National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) in August this year inked the historic Nagaland peace accord to end insurgency in the northeastern state. Government’s interlocutor for Naga peace talks RN Ravi and NSCN chairman Isak Chishi Swu and general secretary Th Muivah signed the peace deal in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Rajnath Singh

While the peace deal was welcomed, the Modi government faced criticism for keeping northeastern states’ CMs and opposition parties in the dark before the inking of the peace deal.

Jayalalithaa acquitted in DA case

Jayalalithaa was in May this year acquitted by the Karnataka High Court in the disproportionate assets case. AIADMK chief’s close aide Sasikala Natarajan and her relatives J Elavarasi and VN Sudhakaran, disowned foster son of Jayalalithaa, were also found not guilty.

Jayalalithaa

Within days, the AIADMK chief returned as chief minister of Tamil Nadu following her acquittal in the corruption case.

India-Bangladesh land-swap agreement

India-Bangladesh

India and Bangladesh in August this year a historic land swap agreement as part of which 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh and 51 Bangladeshi enclaves in India were exchanged in pursuant to the 1974 Land Boundary Agreement and 2011 Protocol. The instruments of ratification for the swap were exchanged during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bangladesh in June.

‘Bharat Ratna’ Vajpayee

Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was in March this year conferred with the Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian honour, for his contribution to Indian politics. President Pranab Mukherjee, in a break from protocol, conferred the top honour on the nonagenarian BJP leader who has been keeping poor health.

Amaravati is new Andhra capital

Amaravati

Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu annouced in early 2015 that Amaravati would be the capital of the divided Andhra Pradesh. The foundation stone-laying of the new capital was done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 22. The new capital is coming up on the southern banks of the River Krishna in Guntur and Krishna districts.

Hardik Patel and Quota fight

Hardik Patel

Hardik Patel, just 22, became a household name when he started the agitation for quota for Gujarat’s rich Patel community. The campaign, which later became violent, demanded that the Patidar caste be included in the Other Backward Class (OBC) category so that they can also get reservation in education and government jobs. While the state government led by Anandiben Patel has refused to cave into the demands, it has in fact hit back at Hardik and arrested him on several charges, including sedition.

Lalitgate

Lalit Modi

Lalit Modi may have been living in London for a while but he came back to ‘haunt’ Indian politics this year. His first victim was External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj who had a lot of explaining to do after she was accused of helping Modi secure travel documents from the UK for travelling to Pakistan where his wife was undergoing treatment for cancer. Later, Modi also dragged in Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje when he disclosed that she had agreed to become a secret witness to her immigration application in the United Kingdom. Both Sushma and Raje, howver, managed to save their respective jobs.

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