Like every year, 2017 had its share of stunning surprises, escalating tensions, chaotic moments and situations that spawned dramatic socio-political narratives worldwide. Onmanorama digs out some defining moments of the year.
1. State Elections
∙ Uttar Pradesh (BJP): Yogi Adityanath
∙ Uttarakhand (BJP): Trivendra Singh Rawat
∙ Goa (BJP): Manohar Parrikar
∙ Manipur (BJP): N. Biren Singh
∙ Punjab (Congress): Captain Amarinder Singh
∙ Gujarat (BJP): Vijay Rupani
∙ Himachal Pradesh (BJP): Jai Ram Thakur
2. Trump Era Begins
Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States. He revised or rewrote several of the Obama administration’s key policies and agreements. Significantly, the U.S. withdrew from the Paris climate accord and decided to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
3. Kim’s Battle Cry
Kim Jong-un was at it again, challenging the world to war. North Korea shook the world with its testing of a hydrogen bomb and then fired ballistic missiles into the sea, some right over Japan, showing scant respect to UN sanctions. He threatened to wipe out Guam island, a U.S. territory in the Pacific. Kim was accused of hiring the women who assassinated his estranged half-brother Kim Jong-nam at a Malaysian airport.
4. Tamil Politics in Mess
Jayalalithaa’s death in 2016 December pushed Tamil politics into a state of chaos. Despite a split in the Anna DMK, the Palaniswami and Panneerselvam factions managed to join hands. The Supreme Court upheld the trial court order to imprison V.K. Sasikala for four years in a disproportionate-assets case. TTV Dinakaran won the by-election to the RK Nagar seat, previously held Jayalalithaa, by defeating the AIADMK. Speculations are rife about the political entry Kamal Hassan, while Rajanikanth said he will announce his stand on 31 December. Actor Vishal has already made his entry.
5. Government Vs. Senkumar
In Kerala, T.P. Senkumar returned as the state police chief after an 11-month legal battle and a lot of uncertainties, and remained there until superannuation on June 30.
6. The Karna Saga
Justice C.S. Karnan became the first sitting judge of a high court to be imprisoned in India. The Kolkata High Court judge was sent to jail for six months for contempt of court. Justice Karnan went into hiding after the Supreme Court verdict and was arrested by the Bengal Police from Coimbatore in June, eight days after he retired.
7. Kochi on Track
Kochi became the first city in Kerala to have a metro rail. Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the first phase of 13 kms from Aluva to Palarivattom on June 17. In October, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan opened the next phase of 5 km from Palarivattom to Maharajas College.
8 New Occupant at Rashtrapati Bhavan
Ram Nath Kovind (72) took office on July 25 as the 14th President of India. The BJP nominee and former Bihar governor beat Opposition’s Meera Kumar to become the first Dalit President after K.R. Narayanan. BJP’s Venkaiah Naidu became the new Vice President.
9. One-Tax Regime
The goods and services tax came into effect on July 1. GST is an indirect levy on products and services. It has replaced eight central and nine state taxes.
10. Kunhali’s Fort
P.K. Kunhalikutty of the Muslim League won the Malappuram Lok Sabha by-poll, in the process setting records on the victory margin (1,71,038 votes) and the share of votes polled (55.04%). The by-election was necessitated by the death of E. Ahmed. In the election to the Vengara assembly seat, which Kunhalikutty vacated, UDF candidate and his party colleague K.N.A. Khadar won with a margin of 23,310 votes.
11. Crime Thriller off the Silver Screen
Actor Dileep was arrested in connection with the February 17 sexual assault on a young actress. He got bail later. The police filed a charge-sheet in November, naming Dileep as accused No. 8 and charging him with conspiracy to abduct and sexually assault the actress over old enmity. There are 12 accused in the case. Sunil Kumar alias Pulsar Suni, who carried out the attack allegedly at the behest of Dileep, is the prime accused.
12. Standoff at Doklam
The border standoff between the armed forces of India and China at Doklam in the Sikkim sector went on for 73 days. Both sides disengaged on August 28, ending concerns that the skirmish could get worse.
13. Saseendran in honeytrap, Chandy doomed
A.K. Saseendran of the NCP had to resign as Kerala’s transport minister in March after he was accused of speaking in a sexually explicit way to a woman. A private television channel had aired an audio clip of purported conversations between the minister and the woman. His party colleague Thomas Chandy, who replaced him at the transport department, too resigned in November after the Kerala High Court castigated him over a petition related to alleged land encroachments.
14. Rahul Takes Over in Congress
Sonia Gandhi has quit as the chief of the Congress, which she led for nearly two decades. Her son Rahul Gandhi is the new president of the grand old party of India. He was elected unopposed.
15. Pope in Myanmar
The head of the Catholic Church visited Myanmar for the first time. Pope Francis visited also Bangladesh during the South Asia trip.
16. The ‘Get Out’ Order
The year saw instances of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s intolerance towards the media. He ordered the media to ‘get out’ when they had assembled at the Mascot Hotel in Thiruvananthapuram to report a meeting between the CPM and BJP to end political violence.
17. Fighter Plane Controversy
Questions over an India-France deal to buy 38 Dassault Rafale fighter jets for Rs 58,000 crore dealt a setback to the Modi government. According to critics, the revamped agreement has nullified the advantage India had under a previous deal to buy the jets, entered during the Manmohan Singh regime. They also claim that the new agreement would weigh on India’s long-term defense projects and weaken its strategies.
18. The Kurinji Debate
The Kerala government’s move to redraw the boundaries of the Neelakurinji reserve in Idukki district has stirred up a controversy. Most areas of the park fall in the Vattavada andKottakamboor villages. Idukki MP Joyce George and some CPM leaders own land in the 58thblock of Kottakamboor. The move to redraw the boundaries is alleged to be aimed to excluding their properties from the kurinji reserve.
19. Loya’s Death, a Flash Back
A controversy has erupted over the 2014 death of Justice Brij Gopal Harkrishan Loya, who was the judge of the CBI court hearing the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case where BJP chief Amit Shah was an accused. The judge was allegedly offered Rs 100 crore by then Bombay High Court Chief Justice Mohit Shah for giving a favorable judgement, an English magazine reported, citing Loya’s sister Dr Anuradha Biyani who said her brother had told her about the bribe offer.
20. The Jai Shah Headache
Causing annoyance to the government, news portal ‘The Wire’ reported a dramatic jump in the revenue of a company owned by BJP chief Amit Shah’s son. The revenue of Jay Shah’s Temple Enterprises rose to Rs 80 crore in the last fiscal year from a mere Rs 50,000 the year before, it reported.
21. Steamy Solar
The Justice G. Sivarajan commission that probed the solar case found the involvement of former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, some of his personal staff and an aide in New Delhi in the multi-crore scam. The commission recommended further investigations to find out whether the allegations levelled against politicians and others in a letter written by Sarita Nair were true or not.
22. Chhillar is Miss World
Delhi girl Manushi Chhillar became Miss World 2017, bringing the crown to India after 17 years. She won the pageant held in China beating 108 other beauties. Priyaka Chopra was the last Indian to win the Miss World title. That was in year 2000.