2022 was an eventful year in regards to India’s political scenario as after two years, things had come back to normal after the Covid-19 pandemic ruined the world for two years.
Starting from the state legislative elections in February 2022, the year witnessed the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) fight to maintain the dominance in the Parliament and State assemblies, while the Opposition, especially the Congress, had continued to struggle against the BJP.
Though most of the major parties had their ups and downs this year, it was the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that made the year a memorable one by clinching Punjab Assembly and increasing its Rajya Sabha tally.
In 2022, legislative assembly elections were held in the states of Goa, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat. Congress emerged victorious in Himachal Pradesh, while AAP retained power in Punjab and the BJP continued its dominance in the five other states.
BJP’s Massive Victory in Gujarat
The BJP which hasn't lost an election in Gujarat since 1995, has crossed an all-time record of 149 seats as it won 156 out of 182 seats in the 2022 assembly election. The saffron party has been in power in Gujarat for 27 years but has never won an election with such a massive mandate. Meanwhile, the Congress won 17 seats followed by AAP with five seats, independent candidates with three seats while Samajwadi Party with one seat.
Gujarat CM Bhupendra Patel, too, scripted history by winning the Ghatlodia constituency by a record margin of about 1,92,000 votes. This constituency has given Gujarat two of its chief ministers - Anandiben Patel and the current CM.
On December 12, Patel took oath as the Chief Minister of Gujarat for the second straight term.
Himachal Pradesh Congress Win
The Himachal Pradesh assembly election provided some relief to the Congress, which won the state with a comfortable majority of seats (40 out of 68). Unlike Gujarat, the AAP failed to make any inroads in Himachal Pradesh, scoring a paltry 1 percent of vote share. Not a single government has succeeded in winning a consecutive term since 1977. The only chief minister to ever win a re-election was the state’s first chief minister, Yashwant Singh Parmar, in 1971. The victory of the Congress, therefore, is in keeping with usual political trends in Himachal.
Congress leader Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu took oath as the new Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh on Sunday. A four-time MLA, Sukhwinder Singh is a former chief of Congress in the state and has been a part of NSUI and Youth Congress. He is a grassroots politician who has risen from the ranks and has wide organizational experience in the hill state. He was the party's state unit president from 2013 to 2019 and spoke his mind even if it was not to the liking of the party's tall leader Virbhadra Singh, a six-time Chief Minister. He fought and won elections for Shimla Municipal Corporation. Sukhu won the assembly election for the first time in 2003 from Nadaun.
AAP’s Victory in Punjab
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) affected a major upset in Punjab earlier this year as it managed to win the border state invincibly, with a tally of 92 seats. With the BJP-SAD alliance on the rocks over the farm laws, Kejriwal moved his pawns accordingly. He ensured his words struck a chord with the protesting farmers and planned his campaign in such a way that there was a sense of purpose and tenacity to it.
On January 18, Bhagwant Mann was announced as AAP’s CM candidate. The party claimed that the decision to make Mann as the CM face was taken after a telephonic poll was conducted. Bhagwant Mann won from Sangrur district’s Dhuri assembly constituency by a huge margin of 58,206 votes beating Congress’ Dalvir Singh Goldy.
Bharat Jodo Yatra
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi embarked on a mammoth padayatra from Kanyakumari to Kashmir starting September 2022. The foot-march which covers 12 states and two Union Territories is about 3,500 km long and recently completed 100-day mark. Additionally, the BJP lampooned the endeavour, underlining that Rahul should do a “jodo” to keep his party in order. Incidentally, as the yatra is in progress, many Congress leaders bid good riddance to it.
New Congress President
In October 2022, Mallikarjun Kharge beat off competition to become the first non-Gandhi chief of the Indian National Congress (INC) in 24 years by defeating Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor in a direct contest for the president's post in the grand old party after the Gandhis opted out of the race. Kharge secured 7,897 votes against Tharoor's 1,072 votes in the run-in to the top post in Congress party.
Crossing the halfway majority in Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) elections, the AAP uprooted the BJP’s 15 year long rule in the city’s civic body. The AAP secured 126 wards out of 250 so far. Meanwhile, BJP who has been ruling the civic body since 2007, managed to win only 97 seats with the party leading on 6 seats till 2 pm, therefore facing a defeat in the polls after 15 years.
The polls for 250 wards in the national capital were held on December 4 with about 50 per cent voter turnout and a total of 1,349 candidates were in the fray. However, the low voter turnout did not prove to be an indicator of pro-incumbency.
Congress, which is mostly focusing on the success of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, was not predicted (in the exit polls) to be a prominent challenger in the recently conducted polling.
Eknath Shinde as Maharashtra CM
In what can be termed as a big twist in the politics of Maharashtra, in June 2022, the BJP announced that it will support rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde as the new Chief Minister. After a high octane drama by the Shiv Sena, the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in the state collapsed leading to the resignation of Uddhav Thackeray from the CM post.
Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde was sworn-in as the new chief minister of Maharashtra in June 2022. Eknath Shinde along with several other MLAs of the MVA coalition moved to Surat throwing the coalition into crisis. The group of MLAs later flew to Guwahati.
The arrest of Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut added fuel to the fire. The states also witnessed several high-profile arrests, including former minister- Anil Deshmukh and Nawab Malik.
Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections:
The Parliament elected the country’s President and Vice-president this year.
On July 25, Droupadi Murmu took oath as the 15th President of India.
The election of Droupadi Murmu, the first woman tribal leader, established the BJP's sway over a community that had seen the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's work and its power but had (largely) voted Congress.
Murmu's election means many things: A new definition of tribal identity, because Murmu changed her tribal name adopting the name of a Sanskritised deity of the Hindu pantheon; but also because as governor, she opposed a BJP-led government in Jharkhand from attempting to divert forest land for industry.
The action reflected not just her tribal identity but also the BJP's understanding of the rights of the community.
The electoral outcome of the Murmu appointment will be seen in 2023 when states with significant tribal population like Madhya Pradesh (21 per cent), Rajasthan (13 per cent), and the north eastern ones like Nagaland and Meghalaya (86 per cent) go to the polls.
On the other hand, on August 11, Jagdeep Dhankhar took oath as the 14th Vice President of India.
Jagdeep Dhankhar was announced as the next Vice-President of India after counting of votes concluded for the elections held on August 6. Dhankhar, the NDA's candidate for the post, beat-off competition from opposition candidate Magret Alva to be named the 14th Vice-President of India.
The BJP-led NDA candidate won the election comfortably with 528 votes against Alva's 182. Dhankhar secured 74.36 per cent. He has the highest winning margin in the last six vice presidential elections held since 1997. The Trinamool Congress, which has a total of 36 MPs, including 23 in Lok Sabha, had abstained from the election. However, two of its MPs had cast their ballots. As many as 55 MPs did not vote in the vice presidential election.