Indian politics 2022: Here are four big trends to watch out for

Electorally and in Parliament, the Modi government is almost unassailable

Abhijit Majumder January 03, 2022 10:37:27 IST
Indian politics 2022: Here are four big trends to watch out for

Prime Minister Narendra Modi stands by the Ganges during the inauguration of the Kashi Vishwanath Dham Corridor, a promenade that connects the sacred river with the centuries-old temple dedicated to Lord Shiva in Varanasi. AP

A quote often attributed to former US president Franklin D Roosevelt but never authentically sourced will perhaps capture what is to come in Indian politics.

It goes: “In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.”

The words of Roosevelt, or whoever put them in his mouth, has aged well in India. One may not be able to put a finger on the whats and hows, but anybody following India’s politics lately is likely to have wondered if unfolding events are part of a larger, invisible matrix controlled by visible and invisible powers.

Considering nothing is random, one can make a few guesses about 2022 based on glimpses of what we have already seen.

Trend 1: You’re Going Into Big Data

“Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you.”

This quote can be attributed to ancient Greek statesman Pericles with a fair bit of certainty. It too is quite relevant in Indian politics today.

The Narendra Modi government greatly values big data. It fine-tuned Aadhaar to help block leakages and reach beneficiaries of its schemes in a targeted manner. It has meticulously collected data on returning migrants during Covid, for instance. It works to a well-laid-out plan and does not like surprises.

It also knows that chaos and opacity, especially when it comes to demographics, will always be skewed against it. The Bill in Parliament to link Aadhaar with voting is one of the many intricate stitches being made to make the electoral system leakage-proof, protected against fake voters and illegal immigrants.

The government needs extremely accurate data for delimitation, building a credible National Population Register, and perhaps eventually an India-wide National Register of Citizens. And mind you, the now delayed 2021 Census may not entirely rely on manual door-to-door data collection.

Trend 2: Reforms And Street Rage

The Opposition and powerful international networks have realised that the only way to stop or stall this government is through street anarchy. Electorally and in Parliament, the Modi government is almost unassailable. The judicial route challenge to it has also repeatedly failed, as orders from Rafale to Ram Mandir have shown us.

On the other hand, wanton street violence under the cover of victim-playing, heartstring-tugging protests have forced the government to rescind the much-needed and reformative new farm laws and delayed implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act.

Expect more such high-visibility street protests and anarchy in 2022, most likely over disinvestment and other crucial reforms.

Trend 3: Who Leads the Opposition?

If there is a matrix at work on the dramatic realignment in the Opposition space, as conspiracy theorists and rational analysts alike have started talking about, it should worry the Congress the most. The aggressive encroachment of its space by parties like TMC, AAP, and AIMIM plays right into the BJP’s objectives of splitting the vote against it into smaller fragments. But are the new parties to blame for aspiring to fill the yawning vacuum left by the Congress? No. It is their democratic right.

A victory in Punjab (a few early opinion polls have given it an edge) and a decent showing in Goa may actually make this the year of Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP. Mamata Banerjee’s TMC has already elbowed out both the CPM and the Congress in Tripura and is bracing for a direct showdown with the ruling BJP. It has covered Goa with billboards and money.

If the Congress loses Punjab despite its advantage, fails to upstage a shaky BJP in Uttarakhand, and sees another washout in Uttar Pradesh despite Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s personal involvement, it will be in a bad space. It may see its votes preyed upon by TMC and AAP even in Gujarat and Himachal elections later this year.

The Opposition free-for-all begins in 2022.

Trend 4: Hindutva 3.0 On Horizon

Much of it has gone unreported, but 2021 was a year of silent consolidation and confidence for the foot soldiers of Hindutva. Campaigns on cow protection and ghar wapsi have gathered momentum. A long-standing grouse like namaz at private places has started finding expression in Gurugram. Religious centres are seeing a grand revival under Modi’s BJP.

In 2022, ghar wapsi or reconversions are likely to pick up pace. There will be fierce drives against love jihad or deceitful and forceful marriage and conversions. A nationwide debate on who is a minority may begin to take shape, three-fourths of a century after the issue was hotly debated in the Constituent Assembly. A legal challenge to the Place of Worship Act, which asks Hindus to make peace with the destruction of their religious places before 1947, is already in court. So are petitions on polygamy and nikah halala, leading up to a Uniform Civil Code.

More sites will be up for revival. From Adi Shankaracharya’s hometown Kalady in Kerala to Lord Krishna’s abode Mathura in Uttar Pradesh, a civilisational revival is afoot.

Some of these changes and churns are so seminal that they will not happen without ugliness. What should be of concern is whether the ugliness eventually leads us to a better place.

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