It is customary, at the end of the year, to visualise the coming year on all the fronts which concern us. The previous year was a moth-eaten year with COVID causing considerable damage in terms of lives lost, dwindling economy, the scare and general negativism.
Towards the last quarter of 2021 things, however, picked up and gave some optimism. A medical doctor and a healer commenting upon economy and politics of our country may look odd. However, the progress of the country and freedom to work in an unbiased atmosphere allows us to give our best.
Year 2022 starts with an optimistic report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). India is projected to have a growth forecast of 8.5% which is higher than that of China, UK and Germany with figures of 5.6%, 5.2% and 4.6%. USA has a projected rate of only 2.3%.
However, the growth percentages are the politician’s way of showing development. Look at the gross development product (GDP) figures of the World bank in US dollars. USA 19.5 trillion, China 12.2 trillion, Japan 4.8 trillion, Germany 3.7 trillion, and India 2.65 trillion needs to be kept in mind. This all indicates a very long way for India to go with our 1.3 billion population. I think we need to wait for quite a while to become a financial power to be reckoned with.
State Assembly Elections:
Seven state assembly polls are due in year 2022. These stares are Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat and it also looks likely the end of President’s rule in J&K.
Most eyes are, however, looking at what happens in UP which could have a bearing on the National elections of 2024. The latest surveys predict 213-221 seats to BJP and 152-160 seats to Samajwadi party.
It is noteworthy that the predicted seats between October and November have shown an increasing trend for SP after SP has joined hands with Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party a former ally of BJP. All the parties have decided to go alone and are eyeing joining hands with smaller caste-based parties. Experts however think the splintered opposition will only help BJP in dividing the anti BJP vote.
Having made a poor show in West Bengal earlier this year, Punjab after the recent Farmers victory in seems to be set for having a hung assembly with BJP not getting any seat. The Aam Admi Party may emerge as the single largest party with Congress finishing as the 2nd with so much of infighting. Mr Amrinder Singh becoming a spent force now is planning to join a BJP alliance. For this reason, Shiromani Akali Dal and BSP may become the king makers.
Our interest is in what could happen in Jammu and Kashmir, where elections are likely to be held in May-June 2022. Various political parties have started increasing their footfall on the ground first time after 5th August 2019. The delimitation commission’s draft report has proposed to increase six seats for the Jammu division and one for the Kashmir division, besides reserving 16 seats for the Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) communities in the UT. It has evoked sharp reactions from the regional parties. The Commission has not specified the districts where the SC and ST’s seats have been reserved. Thus, the proposed assembly segments in Jammu Division stand at 43 against 47 in the Kashmir division. This is against 37 seats for Jammu and 46 seats for Kashmir divisions before 2019.
The Kashmir based parties, both National Conference and PDP have alleged that this delimitation is clearly biased in favour of BJP agenda and instead of a scientific approach the commission have adopted a political approach of pitching people against people. It does appear strange to have more seats for Jammu region in spite of having a smaller population, the explanation given is, however, on the basis of the geographic ground. The plan is obviously to get the assembly ratify the unconstitutional decisions of August 2019. Both Sajad Lone, head of People’s Conference and the CPI (M) veteran Yusuf Tarigami summed up that “it was another step of disempowering Kashmiri’s politically”.
Time will tell what is in store for Kashmiris who were responsible for acceding to India in spite of being a Muslim majority state against the principles of dividing India into two countries on the basis of religion.
Next President and Vice President of India
The year 2022 also has to go through another change and go for a new President and Vice President. Speculations are on the following personalities being considered for the coveted posts:
Mr Sharad Pawar former chief minister of Maharashtra several times and Member of Parliament Rajya Sabha onwards.
Dr Karan Singh former Governor of Jammu Kashmir and son of the Maharaja of J and K Hari Singh, Central Cabinet Minister, former ambassador to the USA , Rajya Sabha Member and former Vice Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University.
Mr Bhim Singh President of the Jammu and Kashmir National Panther’s Party. Former Professor at University of Cambridge and a former member of the J and K Legislative assembly.
Mr Arif Mohammed Khan, a former Congressman who opposed the Muslims Personal Law Bill, left the party and became a BJP supporter. He is currently the Governor of Kerala and is a secular Muslim face to be considered for the high office.
One of these personalities who do not get the coveted President’s post may become the Vice President of India.
The financial growth rate in India is likely to improve although the basic GDP is quite low. India is looking towards an important election for UP assembly in early 2022. All eyes are focussed on that. BJP and Samajwadi Party are the competitors with Yogi Adityanath and Modi combine being the favourites. This may set in the results of 2024 National elections. Other states are not so important but BJP is going to be wiped off in Punjab, thanks to their handling of the Farmers rally. Jammu and Kashmir which has gone through a delimitation process is likely to increase seats for Jammu region. The idea presumably being to dilute the Kashmiri dominance. J&K acceded to India in spite of Muslim majority going against the principles of partition of India in good faith. This makes people of Kashmir think whether their choice was correct. Time alone will answer this riddle.
Prof Upendra Kaul is founder Director Gauri Kaul Foundation, and recipient of Padma Shri and DR B C Roy Award
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.