Yearender 2022 Special: Year 2022 is about to say ‘goodbye’. As the year 2022 has been Covid restriction-free, life in every sector, including polity returned to normalcy. The first quarter of the year began with a high decibel election in 5 states and the yearend witnessed the high-stakes polls in PM Modi and BJP chief JP Nadda’s home states- Gujarat and Himachal respectively. We have seen a few leaders emerge as heros while others not exactly zero but failed to make an impact on the political landscape in the country. In the post-Covid era, elections were held in Goa, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat in which BJP won 5 states, while AAP and Congress one each. The year 2022 brought fortune not only for BJP but for other parties too. During or off elections, few politicians' influences remain at play. They ruled the entire year. For positive or negative reasons, they hogged the limelight.
If politics is a movie then these 10 politicians were the leading actors in 2022
1. PM Modi: Since 2014 the ‘Modi-magic’ has never seen a downward trend. With every passing year, the ‘Modi-wave’ is growing stronger. 2022 also witnessed a powerful Modi-wave that powered his party Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) to win 5 states out of 7, including two high-stakes polls battles in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat. BJP’s dependence on PM Modi shows his political weightage. In all 7 states assembly elections and Delhi MCD polls, he has been the poster boy for the saffron party. It was his intense campaigning that helped Yogi government to return to power. Yogi Adityanath broke the 35-year jinx and became 5th CM who retained his chair in UP. In Gujarat, BJP created history by winning 7the consecutive victory in PM Modi’s home state. The BJP has been in power in Gujarat for 27 years but it never registered such a record-shattering victory in state assembly elections. The saffron party has not only bettered its own 2002 tally, it has also surpassed the best performance by any party in Gujarat. In 2002, BJP won 127 of 182 Gujarat Assembly seats. And all credits go to PM Modi. PM Modi shines in global politics too. When Ukraine-Russia war broke out, PM Modi was one of few statesmen who directly spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
2. Yogi Adityanath: It was a testing year for Yogi Adityanath. When BJP won 2017 UP Assembly election, Yogi was not in the CM race and neither he was the main face for BJP. But, in 2022, Yogi was the face of the ruling party and his performance was to judge by people of the state. Surprisingly, under his leadership, BJP broke 35-year-old record and returned to power. He got a new name ‘Bulldozer baba’ for his strict action against wrongdoers. UP, under Yogi’s leadership, achieved several milestones in 2022. UP became the first state to have 13 expressways in the nation and the state is now the third largest economy after Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. 2022 increased the political stardom of Yogi as he became the face of ‘Hindutva’. He ended the year on a victorious note as his candidate won in SP leader Azam Khan’s bastion Rampur in bypoll.
3. Arvind Kejriwal: After Year 2013, when Arvind Kejriwal first time led an election campaign and created history by rooting out Congress government in Delhi, Year 2022 has been the most memorable for him. The year 2022 added many feathers to his cap. In recently concluded elections in Gujarat and Delhi, AAP, under his leadership performed beyond expectation. Kejriwal’s AAP become the national party in 2022 after winning 5 assembly seats in PM Modi’s home state and also chunked out 13% vote share which was a big surprise. In MCD election, he ended BJP’s 15-year dominance in the civic body. He visited several states in an attempt to make inroads for his party. He was seen with Kerala and Tamil Nadu CMs.
4. Ashok Gehlot: Whether his critics believe it or not, in the year 2022 he was the tallest Congress leader. He not only defied Gandhis but also brought the party leadership to his term. Recently, when Rahul Gandhi emphasized a one-man-one post policy ahead of the Congress presidential election, Gehlot, one of the contenders, denied to resign as Rajasthan CM and allegedly provoked his MLAs against the high command’s desire to make Sachin Pilot the next chief minister. Despite a stern warning from high command, he never shied away to target his party colleague and rival Sachin Pilot. Even after openly showing a rebellious attitude, the party still banks on him as he maintained his role of a ‘troubleshooter’..
5. Rahul Gandhi: Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi has been waiting for his electoral fortune since 2019 defeat in his constituency Amethi. Despite full backing from Congress leadership, Gandhi failed to capitalised on several occasions. The year 2022 has been a mixed bag for him as he has been at the center of BJP’s attack but at the same time he remained a blue-eyed-boy for Congress supporters. Recently, Congress launched ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, apparently to relaunch brand ‘Rahul Gandhi’ as he is leading 3,570 km foot march which will end in early February covering 3,570 km. The yatra is getting good response which Congress sees as a revival of the party. Rahul Gandhi also hit headlines when ED questions him several times in National Herald case. Throughout the year, Gandhi kept targeting RSS and Modi government over several issues.
6. Amit Shah: The year 2022 has been very challenging for Home Minister Amit Shah. As he is known for his ‘Chanakyaniti’, Shah outsmarted all the odds. The major challenge he faced in 2022 was the law and order situation in Kashmir as several Kashmiri Pundits were shot dead by terrorists which triggered the Opposition’s attacks against him but he controlled the situation successfully. He visited the UT amid a security threat. The Gujarat election has also been a huge challenge for him as the state was his home. On this front too, he emerged victorious. In fact, his party BJP received a historic victory in Gujarat. He fiercely campaigned in Gujarat. During a poll rally, Shah cited ‘Godhra violence’ saying after punishing culprits once, the state got a permanent peace.
7. Manish Sisodia: The year 2022 has been very eventful for Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia. In August, he was mentioned in a New York Times report which praised his education model in the national capital. At the same time, Sisodia’s residence was raided by CBI in alleged irregularities in Delhi liquor policy. He was named among 15 other accused in an FIR but his name was not mentioned in the chargesheet. Later, Sisodia termed it his victory. He has been at the center of BJP’s attacks during the MCD election but Sisodia’s influence in Delhi remained intact which was reflected in MCD poll results in which his party- AAP defeated the saffron party.
8. Nitish Kumar: The year 2022 will be remembered for another U-turn made by JD(U) leader and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. He interestingly resigned from his own government and formed it again with a new partner. Kumar ditched BJP and made a patch-up with RJD. With Kumar’s switching side stunt, the political equation in Bihar has totally changed. He surprised everyone to announce foe-turned-friend Tejashwi Yadav as his political successor. Kumar also announced that he is not a contender for any post in upcoming elections indicating the elevation of Yadav. He also took a resolution to defeat BJP. The year 2022 also brought severe criticism by the Opposition over several hooch tragedies in dry Bihar.
9. Himanta Biswa Sarma: One of the prominent politicians from northeast Himanta Biswa Sarma remained in news throughout 2022. The Assam chief minister emerged as the top Hindutva face along with Yogi Adityanath. BJP took him everywhere in elections held in 2022. From Gujarat Assembly election to Delhi MCD poll, he has been a star campaigner for BJP. Like Yogi, he too did bulldozers politics in 2022. Madrassas were bulldozed in Assam. He batted for modernization of Madrassas. He took on Delhi Education Minister Manish Sisodia over reform in the education sector. Recently, he compared Rahul Gandhi with Saddam Hussein. He has also been very vocal on ‘love jihad’ coined by right-wingers for Hindu-Muslim marriages.
10. Bhagwant Mann: The year 2022 has been very special for AAP leader Bhagwant Mann but also for Punjab politics. The year 2022 will be a red-letter year for the history of Punjab as the state got a chief minister from a new entrant- AAP. Bhagwant Mann-led AAP defeated the ruling Congress government and created history. AAP got its first full-fledged government, unlike Delhi which is a UT. Comedian-turned-politician was underrated by political analysts but in 2022 he traveled extensively through remote villages in Punjab and convinced them that he was a person who can make Punjab drug-free and also can solve farmers' issues. His coronation inspired AAP workers and he became a poster boy for his party. He also campaigned in elections in Gujarat, Himachal and Delhi in which except Himalayan state, the party did well in rest.