2020: Year of protest, politics and pandemic



Amid an economic slowdown and concerns about countries like China reigning over global supply chains, PM Narendta Modi pushed for a self-reliant or ‘Aatmanirbhar’ India through a series of welfare schemes. Most notably, as part of the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan, a special package of Rs 20 lakh crores was announced, aimed at boosting the country’s economy and supporting the poor.


Riding on the BJP’s spectacular performance in the Assembly elections, Nitish Kumar assumed the position of the Chief Minister of Bihar once again. While the BJP returned with a tally of 74 in the Assembly, its alliance partner, the JD(U), managed to win only 43. Meanwhile, the RJD, under the young and energetic Tejashwi Yadav, became the single-largest party in the State Assembly.


In February, national capital Delhi saw communal riots amid the ongoing protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) 2019, leading to 53 people being killed. Authorities suspected deliberate foul play as the violence coincided with the visit of US President Donald Trump. The CAA was passed to fast-track citizenship for persecuted minorities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.


The Congress faced internal strife with the Rajasthan saga involving CM Ashok Gehlot and a rebellious Deputy CM Sachin Pilot and the ‘G 23’ letter sent to party chief Sonia Gandhi, calling for sweeping reforms in the party’s organisation and functioning. Jyotiraditya Scindia’s resignation and 21 MLAs following suit also left the Congress’ MP government in a lurch.


It was Arvind Kejriwal once again when it came to be the elected leader of Delhi. Despite the well-oiled poll machinery of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Aam Aadmi Party won 62 of the 70 seats in the State Assembly. The BJP won the rest, while the Congress failed to even open its account.


In December, the country saw massive protests, led primarily by farmers of Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh against the new farm laws aimed at reforming the agriculture sector. In a U-turn, the Congress demanded a repeal of the very farm reforms it had sworn to champion in 2019. Other parties too took their positions on the issue, as per their political convenience.


The India-China relations saw a level of deterioration that hadn’t been seen in decades. The tension reached a boiling point in June when an Indian patrolling party along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh was ambushed and brutally attacked with spikes and irons rods by China’s PLA forces. 20 soldiers were killed in this standoff between the two nuclear weapon nations.


PM Modi’s announcement of a nationwide lockdown on 25 March led to a great exodus of migrant workers, who walked hundreds of kilometres to reach their native villages. However, after the Centre’s directive, states organised relief camps and Shramik Special trains started plying. The Union government also allocated funds and announced free food grains to support the migrant workers.


After decades of political and legal battle, India finally had an Ayodhya solution, courtesy the Supreme Court, which paved the way for a Ram temple. Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir in Ayodhya and the Bharatiya Janata Party put up a grand event to mark the beginning of the temple’s construction.


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Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personal chemistry was on display when US President Donald Trump made his maiden visit to India in February. A roadshow was organised in Ahmedabad where over a lakh people gathered to welcome the two leaders. At the end of the visit, India signed a deal to purchase $3 billion worth of US military helicopters.