Best and worst of 2014

Last Updated: Sun, Dec 21, 2014 08:14 hrs

Rise of the year: Narendra Modi.

There is absolutely no doubt in this. Not only did Modi storm the nation to become Prime Minister, but soon after his campaigns delivered the first ever BJP Chief Ministers for both Maharashtra and Haryana. While Modi critics as usual are bashing him, he is notching up one electoral victory after another and laying the foundations for his five-year rule.

Fall of the year: Sonia Gandhi.

She was in the wilderness after refusing Prime Ministership in 1991 and her electoral drubbing in 1999. However, it is difficult to see how she will ever come out of this fall. The Congress has just 44 Lok Sabha seats and a handful of States. Rahul Gandhi has flopped. The National Herald scam case looms large.

Self-destruction of the year: Mamata Banerjee.

She stormed West Bengal in 2011 and got 33 Lok Sabha seats this year. With the BJP short in the Rajya Sabha and the CPM in decline, she should have been a supremo. But her arrogance, paranoia and her handling of the Saradha scam and the Burdwan blasts have put her on a path of oblivion.

Arrest of the year: Devyani Khobragade.

The arrest of this IFS officer in America led to a major diplomatic standoff and headline news for quite a long time. However in the end she came back to India and was stripped off her duties.

Conviction of the year: Jayalalitha.

Usually convictions don’t mean much in politics, but with the latest rule barring politicians from being MPs/MLAs for 6 years (not including conviction) meant that she was ousted from the post of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister. Though she is ruling by proxy, she will find it extremely difficult to do so should the High Court uphold her conviction.

Dark horse of the year: Kailash Satyarthi.

Imagine the Nobel Prize for Peace going to a relatively unknown Indian. That’s quite difficult in today’s Internet age of overexposure. Satyarthi hadn’t even won a measly Padma Shri, though he had won a host of international prizes. The last time an Indian-born Indian resident won the Nobel Prize was way back in 1930 (CV Raman).

Political dark horse of the year: Chandrababu Naidu.

At the beginning of 2014 nobody would have thought that Naidu would make such a comeback. While allies of the BJP like Shiv Sena and opponents like Trinamool are in the news for all the wrong reasons, Naidu is quietly working for the State and building up a new Capital. While Telangana keeps hurtling from one controversy to another, the new Andhra Pradesh is focusing on development.

Limbo of the year: N Srinivasan.

Is he calling the shots at the BCCI? Or isn’t he? This saga has been going on for ages and despite the Supreme Court pulling him up, he has maintained his hold on the BCCI, just about. From 2013-14, the following have been BCCI Presidents: Srinivasan, then Jagmohan Dalmiya, then Srinivasan again, then Shivlal Yadav and Sunil Gavaskar, and still Srinivasan again is not fully out of the picture.

Fighter of the year: Viswanathan Anand.

Very few chess world champions manage to make a comeback after the age of 40. When Anand lost his chess title in 2013, many told him to retire. But Anand at the age of 45 managed to beat the competition and emerge as challenger. While he lost this time, you never know with Anand. He could still emerge as modern chess’s oldest world champion.

Surprise of the year: Badminton China Open.

Only those from the geographical region of China and Southeast Asia have won the badminton China Open in both the men’s and women’s categories. Anyone winning outside this region in any one category would have been a surprise. However both titles went to Indians: Srikanth Kidambi and Saina Nehwal.

Compromise of the year: Shiv Sena.

Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray arrogantly stuck to giving BJP a low amount of seats before the Maharashtra elections. He attacked Modi at every given opportunity and after continued with his outrageous demands after the polls. In the end he had to eat humble pie and join the NDA on BJP’s terms.

Bail amount of the year: Rs 10,000 crore.

Sahara group owner Subrata Roy was arrested in an investor fraud case and the Supreme Court agreed to give him interim bail on condition of a deposit of Rs 10,000 crore, an unheard of amount. Unable to raise that kind of money, Subrata is still in jail.

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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here.