Politically, the country will be stable, given the massive mandate won by Prime Minister Narendra Modi just six months ago but the BJP has a lot of work still left to do to fulfil its core agenda
Nostradamus, the world’s most famous seer, had predicted that the year 2020 would mark the beginning of a new era, accompanied by bloodshed and suffering, but that it would also bring new hopes. So, as we stand at the cusp of the new year, one wonders what 2020 will bring for India?
Politically, the country will be stable, given the massive mandate won by Prime Minister Narendra Modi just six months ago. The BJP is sure to begin the year with a sense of triumph as the Modi Government has achieved most of the party’s core agenda during its second term, including the abrogation of Article 370, a favourable judgment in the Ayodhya issue, dealing with the issue of illegal immigrants through the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and so on. However, there is a need to arrest the widespread unrest created due to the CAA and the NRC as it is not doing the Government any good.
Going forward, in 2020, the Government is likely to form a trust and begin the Ram temple’s construction in a grand manner in Ayodhya. The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is the only remaining part of the core BJP-RSS agenda and a Bill to regulate the population is also on the anvil.
Though the BJP will not achieve majority in the Rajya Sabha, Modi and his deputy Amit Shah have shown how Bills could be pushed through with the support of some neutral parties like the Biju Janata Dal (BJD).
However, the economy is going to be the biggest challenge for the Modi Government. A plunge in domestic consumption, manufacturing, construction, real estate, weakening of industrial production, slump in exports and imports and a mess in the banking and financial sectors need urgent attention.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recently marginally cut its growth forecast for 2019 to 5.8 per cent but said it will pick up to 6.2 per cent in 2020 and further to 6.4 per cent in 2021. The global broking firm Goldman Sachs has forecast a mild recovery of the Indian economy by March 2020.
Politically there could be some realignments. The Opposition may continue to be scattered and weak. The Congress’ prospects are looking up a bit. However, it is yet to emerge as an alternative. Both the Congress and the BJP might have new presidents. While Rahul Gandhi is expected to return as the party chief, the BJP might choose the present working president JP Nadda to lead it from now on.
The BJP ended the year by emerging as the single-largest party in Haryana and Maharashtra. While the party formed the Government in Haryana, the Shiv Sena-Congress-Nationalist Congress Party combine formed the Government in Maharashtra, upstaging the BJP there.
With the parting of ways with the Shiv Sena, the BJP might have to look for new friends in the coming year. As it is, the NDA has shrunk with the Telugu Desam Party leaving in March 2019 and the Sena in December 2019. The JD(U) and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) are the only two big allies left with the saffron party.
Bihar and Delhi will go for Assembly polls in 2020. Both are important for the BJP as it is part of the ruling coalition in Bihar and has been trying to get Delhi back as it was strong in the Capital in the past. The “Modi magic” did not work in both the States in 2015 as the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) won with a massive majority in Delhi and the mahagathbandhan, comprising the Congress, JD(U), the RJD and smaller parties, won in Bihar. The mahagathbandhan has broken up since then and Nitish Kumar is back as an NDA Chief Minister. Bihar has 243 seats and Nitish will lead the BJP-JD(U) combine in the Bihar polls.
As for Delhi, the ruling AAP is going strong despite all odds. The fight there will be three-cornered with the AAP, the Congress and the BJP fighting for the 70 seats. The Congress and the BJP have no local leaders to match the stature of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. However, the BJP’s star campaigner Modi is planning to kick off the poll campaign on December 22 with a huge rally at the Ramlila Maidan.
Modi has struck up a friendship with US President Donald Trump. It is to be seen who wins the crucial 2020 US presidential elections. In any case, India has the support of both Democrats and Republicans in the US and the victory of Boris Johnson in the United Kingdom (UK) might cement the Indo-UK relationship further, too, making things right for the country as far as the West is concerned. However, India has to sort out its differences in the neighbourhood, particularly with Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
The Tokyo Olympics in 2020 is an important event as in the 100th year of India’s participation, the Indian Olympic Association, with the JSW Group, will showcase the nation’s heritage and economic might through an India House. It seems strange that a country of more than 1.3 billion people can only collect an average of less than one medal per games. Maybe the new year will see the nation shore up its winnings as more and more people take to sports and training takes centre stage.
India will be hosting the next ‘No Money for Terror’ Ministerial Conference in 2020. Restricting funding is the key to stopping terror in its tracks, as money is the backbone for training, attacks and other terror infrastructure.
Though the year 2020 is not packed with events, nevertheless, it is only the beginning and events might overtake any prediction.
(Writer: Kalyani Shankar; Courtesy: The Pioneer)