bjp: WB loss, Covid and farm agitation made 2021 a year of challenges for the ruling BJP | India News

NEW DELHI: The year 2021, in which India continued its fight to overcome Covid-19, was an eventful one for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that won Assam, failed spectacularly in its bid to come to power in West Bengal and also managed to bring to an amicable resolution to the prickly farm agitation that heavily dominated the political discourse.
The year also saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi effecting a high-profile in his council of ministers as several big names moved out of the government while others took their place. As the year wound to a close, the BJP was leading a high-profile campaign in Uttar Pradesh where it continues to the be the favourite.
LOSS IN WEST BENGAL: On the political front, the West Bengal elections dominated the discourse in the earlier part of the year. The BJP made a massive push to win West Bengal, a state from which it had got 18 Lok Sabha MPs in the 2019 polls. Top BJP leaders criss-crossed the state while several opposition leaders too joined the party. A spirited TMC led by the fiery Mamata Banerjee, however, was not keen to accede much space. Banerjee, after being injured in a rally, campaigned in a wheel chair.
The BJP did manage to do the unthinkable, but only partially. Its leader Suvendu Adhikari defeated Mamata Banerjee in Nandigram. Overall, the TMC sweept West Bengal. Mamata Banerjee was firmly in the saddle once again. To BJP’s credit, it became the second largest party in a state where it only had a marginal presence in the pre-2014 era.
VICTORY IN ASSAM: The north-eastern state of Assam brought cheer to the BJP as it came to power again in the state. Himanta Biswa Sarma, a former Congress leader became the chief minister. In other states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, the BJP could not put up a strong showing. The party’s chief ministerial candidate E Sreedharan, popularly known as the metro man, also lost from Palakkad in Kerala.
CABINET RESHUFFLE: In his typical style Prime Minister Narendra Modi stunned political observers when several top names like the then law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, health minister Harsh Vardhan, education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank and information and broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar left his cabinet in a reshuffle. While the reshuffle was much awaited, its scale surprised many. Modi packed his council of ministers with leaders from backward communities. Many also linked the changes to performance of various ministries during the second wave of covid. New ministers like Bhupendra Yadav, Ashwin Vaishnaw and Jyotiraditya Scindia joined the government.
COVID WAVE: During the March-April period, the number of Covid cases surged in the country and it was termed as the second wave of the pandemic. While the government did try to work in tandem with states, the pandemic took its toll on a large number of people including prominent personalities. The party and the government also projected the country-wide vaccination as a major success.
FARM ISSUES: The year saw violence on January 26 as farmers marched in to the capital to protest against three farm laws brought by the Centre. After a protracted protest on Delhi’s borders, the Centre rolled back the laws and the farmers left the blockades. The BJP, however, had to do a lot of firefighting as opposition parties tried to project it as an anti-farmer party. The Lakhimpur Kheri incident, in which Union minister Ajay Mishra Teni’s son is an accused, further made things difficult for the party.
PARLIAMENTARY RUN-INS: With Covid-19 affecting the economy and farm agitation posing a challenge on the political front, the parliament also saw bitter fights between the treasury and the opposition benches. The recently concluded winter session saw the opposition bitterly protesting the suspension of twelve of its members.
HINDUTVA PUSH: Despite the challenges, the BJP stuck to its Hindutva agenda. Prime Minister Narendra Modi led from the front at the inauguration of the Kashi Vishwanath temple corridor in Varanasi. The construction of the Ram Temple also finds repeated mention in the speeches of its leaders.
UP POLLS: As the year ends and a new begins, the ‘double-engine’ Modi-Yogi duo have been trying to convince the Uttar Pradesh public to again vote for them on the development plus Hindutva plank.
OTHER STATES: In Punjab, the BJP got a booster shot as former chief minister Amarinder Singh left Congress and allied his new outfit with the saffron party. The BJP effected changes at the chief minister’s chair in Gujarat, Karanataka and Uttarakhand. The party won several byelections but fared poorly in Himachal Pradesh bypolls.

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