History will remember year 2013 as the year which saw inactive attitude and lack of decision-making abilities of the Central government due to which the nation kept on groping in the dark. This year was so full of disappointment that it’s difficult to recall the good moments. Such was the magnitude of the lethargic attitude of the government that it eventually went on to bite dust of sorts. This lackluster attitude of government started showing signs in 2012 and though it was ‘warned’ several time this year, still it refused to wake up from the slumber. The nation had to pay a heavy price for this inefficient attitude of the government. The people have shown the level to the government and the Congress party which has stooped in the recently held Assembly elections in five states barring Mizoram. The poll outcomes left Congress red-faced in the four states – Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, where it has lost badly to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). It’s now become pretty clear that the political base of Congress has suffered a massive jolt and the party’s tall claims of having its hand with the common people has started losing sheen as well. After getting badly routed in the four states, the party has been compelled to back to the basics and reconsider its political strategy right from the scratch. Some of its illustrations have come out in open in the past few days when Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi termed corruption and inflation as two of the biggest problems at a FICCI meet and stressed on the necessity of generating avenues of employment. Besides, he also indicated towards taking certain steps to ensure good governance in Congress-ruled states. Sending out a strong message against corruption, the Gandhi scion has asked for a revision on Maharashtra government’s decision to dismiss the draft report on Adarsh scam. Previously, he also took a tough stance against Ordinance to shield convicted politicians by calling it ‘rubbish’.

After Environment and Forests Minister Jayanthi Natarajan’s resignation last week, it was said that one of the major reasons behind this is the ministry stalling several industrial projects. It seems that the government has finally realized that major industrial projects can’t be brought to a halt simply in the name of conservation of environment and forests. There has been an indication towards changes as soon as Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moily was given the additional responsibility of looking after the department of environment and forests. The government’s social welfare programmes, just like issues related to environment are also giving blues to the government. Programmes like MNREGA and Food Security Bill are often considered as pet projects of Sonia Gandhi, as a part of National Advisory Council (NAC) rather than plans of Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in ‘actual’ sense. The government is not yet ready to accept the fact that these programmes have slowed down the pace of economic growth but Rahul Gandhi seems to have realized this and that’s why he is stressing on bringing in a revamp in the existing structure. This very viewpoint is good for Congress as well as for the nation and the party has been compelled to bring in changes in its strategy due to some other reasons as well. At a time, when it’s sweating out to counter the Modi challenge, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in general and Arvind Kejriwal in particular have emerged as formidable challenge before the grand old party. Undoubtedly, BJP is also feeling the heat of AAP’s heroics. 

No one might have thought Arvind Kejriwal would go on to become the Chief Minister of Delhi, when he came along with veteran Gandhian Anna Hazare two years ago during the Janlokpal Bill movement. Kejriwal’s success story is indeed a golden chapter in the history of Indian democracy. The IIT graduate has proved that people are the actual stakeholders in a democratic set-up and if the established political parties turn deaf ears to people’s problems, it will have to face the music. Kejriwal became the harbinger of a social revolution and now he is being seen revamping the overall structure of nation’s political machinery. The façade of simplicity illustrated by Kejriwal and his team has emerged as a new landmark in the nation’s political history. Though every party claims to work for the people, the moment they come to power, their attitude and approach undergoes a sea-change. They get so lost in the ‘political intoxication’ that they starts maintaining a distance from the people who voted them to power. On the contrary, the AAP leader, in spite of being rookie in the political arena, lit a new ray of hope among the people. They have shown no interest towards availing the special privileges, which are much sought-after by the other political leaders. If AAP maintains this very intensity, seriousness and sensitivity towards the people’s problems, it will give other political big-wigs a major run for their money.

The BJP seems to be heading towards 2014 with a renewed vigour and energy and one of the major reasons behind this is the political air becoming increasingly easy-to-wade-through for them. Not only the failures of Congress and Central government have made BJP’s ground smoother, the saffron party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is also finding no major obstacles. After establishing himself as an able administrator, Modi is also coming out of the specter of 2002 Gujarat riots. The Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted by Supreme Court was the first to give the BJP strongman clean chit and just a few days back, a Ahmedabad court backed the SIT’s report. Elated over the court’s decision, Modi, for the first time expressed his views over the dreaded incident of bloodshed in an elaborate manner. Expressing grief over the incident, the Gujarat CM appealed not to dig up skeletons. It’s not known how the Muslim community will react to this, but it needs to be mentioned that Modi has indeed worked towards unifying the spirit of social tranquility and development in a comprehensive manner. In this age of coalition politics, Modi’s efforts can impress those parties, which are neither part of National Democratic Alliance nor United Progressive Alliance. BJP may well believe that after securing an impressive victory in three states, it’s not far away from making a foray at the Centre. However, the saffron party should take a closer note of the Delhi Assembly elections results. BJP’s vibes have been pretty cool and expressed disdain towards the rise of AAP, a move, which could cost it dearly. In fact, it’s AAP which is walking away with most of the vote share of BJP. The way BJP is believed to enjoy a significant presence in most of the major cities of North India, the AAP has been able to make its impact felt in an impressive manner in some of the most politically crucial areas of national capital. It’s being said that the AAP has also received favourable support in other metropolitan cities as well.

Under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi, the Congress is looking to work on its strategy in order to go for an image makeover. The Gandhi scion is a major center of attention mainly because party is considering of making him prime ministerial candidate against Narendra Modi. The Congress is expected to come out with a major decision on this very issue on the meeting which is scheduled to be held in January. In case that happens, the overall political landmark of the nation will become pretty interesting. It’s certain that the 2014 Lok Sabha polls will see a head-on contest between Congress and BJP but the AAP must be doing its homework as well in order to spoil the party for two of the biggest national political outfits. There is no doubt that 2013 has been a year of disappointment for the nation due to certain reasons but 2014 is looking promising and brimming with possibilities of changes. In these challenging times, the nation is desperately looking for a change. And the general election is all set to play a major role in triggering this change and hence, it’s rightly said that people are the most important stakeholder of initiating and bringing in a change.

(An original copy of the article published in Hindi on December 29, 2013 translated by the English editorial. The author is the Group Editor of Dainik Jagran)