Who will be the President and Vice President of India? What will be the future of 690 MLAs in the upcoming five state elections? Who will replace the late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa? Will West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee be the face of a United Opposition? What will happen to the Congress? Will it be relevant in Indian politics or move to oblivion under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi? Will the AAP party be able to emerge as an alternate to the Congress? Will Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar jettison Laloo Yadav and move closer to BJP? Will the Opposition parties be united under one umbrella? What will be the impact of demonetisation on the economic scenario? These are all serious questions, answers to which will unfold in 2017. Apart from being remembered for the impact of demonetisation, 2017 is likely to be the most volatile year of the decade.
The opening of the political battle will start from the Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. The assembly results, especially in Punjab and UP, will determine the future course of action of the ruling National Democratic Alliance. Everybody is debating UP, as it will decide the fates of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and BSP supremo Mayawati. If the BJP wins in UP, it will be considered a vindication of demonetisation and will have a direct bearing on the President and Vice-President elections. Both elections are going to be very tough. At the start of 2017, the NDA has 282 MPs in Lok Sabha and 1,126 MLAs and the Congress has 900 MLAs and 40 Lok Sabha MPs. This dynamic will change if the BJP sweeps the assembly polls. So far, the BJP’s top leadership is silent on the candidature of President. It all depends on Narendra Modi; whether he chooses Lal Krishna Advani or Murli Manohar Joshi or new leaders emerge on the scene keeping in mind the social engineering thrust of the PM. There is also a void after the demise of J Jayalalithaa, and the DMK, AIADMK, BJP and Congress will fight to capture the space.
Chief Minister of Delhi and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal’s move will indicate how far he has succeeded in replacing the Congress Party. He is a man to be watched in the year 2017. Who will be the Prime Ministerial candidate of the Opposition? There is a fierce battle within the groups and political parties. The situation on the Opposition front is pathetic; the more they try to unite, the more they disintegrate. Personal ego, caste, region, social considerations are the biggest hurdles to Opposition unity. Mamata Banerjee has initiated the move to fill the gap, but she has a long way to go as she has her own contradictions. It is to be seen whether the other shrewd players will accept her as their leader. The most serious development will, however, be the impact of demonetisation. India will be in a position to provide a correct picture of demonetisation only in early 2018 as the churning of the economic cycle will make us understand what is likely to happen in the next decade. Narendra Modi has come out from the traditional politics of caste, cadre, creed and region, and so on. In fact, Modi has changed the dynamics of politics not only within BJP and RSS but in India itself. Year 2017 will see how far the RSS and the BJP need Modi. The year 2017 will not only be the toughest for India, but for Modi as well. Irrespective of all the chaos which India has to face, we, the people of India, have to move on for progress.
Happy New Year.