Games people played

Written by Nistula Hebbar | Nistula Hebbar | Updated: Dec 31 2011, 06:05am hrs
Before Team Anna, there was the 2G scam and the CWG scam events that brought phrases, such as Tihar tourism and corporate honchos, into vogue. The Patiala House courts became as familiar for TV viewers as the Bigg Boss house, and made a degree in criminal law a must for any MBA aspirant. There was (is) Mamata Banerjee, refusing to go where the UPA might lead her, and the phoney war of a Cabinet rivalry between the home minister and the finance minister. FE takes a look at all that made news and the people who made it happen in 2011.

Kanimozhi: Described as a flower by her inconsolable father, M Karunanidhi, Kanimozhi spent months behind bars over the 2G scam. Her trial, with a cast of characters from lawyer Ram Jethmalani to her low-profile husband Aravindan and her extended family, kept the nation riveted to this domestic version of Jailbreak. Her preference for south Indian breakfast and concern for women inmates made more headlines than her Parliament speeches.

Mamata Banerjee: She rode the 'Poriborton' wave, ending three decades of Left rule in West Bengal and becoming its first woman chief minister. As a UPA ally, she turned out to be tougher to handle than the Left, opposing FDI in retail, the Pension Bill and, as a tail-end teaser, giving anxious moments to the government on the Lokpal Bill as well. The lack of chatterjee between Banerjee and Pranab Mukherjee can send the Sensex into a tailspin. More on this next year.

Team Anna: While Anna Hazare himself captured the imagination of the nation, Team Anna, enumerated by Lalu Prasad in the Lok Sabha as consisting of one retired bureaucrat (Arvind Kejriwal), a retired policewoman (Kiran Bedi) and two lawyers (Shanti and Prashant Bhushan), helped launch a million tweets, and India's first made-for-TV revolution. They sang, negotiated, performed skits on stage and forced Parliament to forgo its winter vacation to clear the Lokpal Bill (which, eventually, it didnt). Team Anna made the news for putting fasting on the map to a generation of dieters.

Pranab Mukherjee and P Chidambaram: An official memo on the 2G scam, which surfaced in court records, and a scandal of the finance minister's office being allegedly bugged made sure that finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and home minister P Chidambaram remained in the news through out Delhi's sweltering monsoon months. Mukherjee denied he had alleged any wrongdoing on Chidambaram's part in the 2G pricing issue, and Chidambaram declared himself satisfied with the answer. A photo-op, and all was well again.

Kapil Sibal: Human resource development (HRD) minister Kapil Sibal was coasting along until he became telecom minister in the wake of the 2G spectrum scam. In his zeal to defend the government's record, he first made the famous zero-loss-to-the-exchequer statement, i.e., that the Comptroller and Auditor General of India's assessment of 2G losses at R1,76,000 crore was wrong. He ended the year playing the baddie on internet censorship.

Narendra Modi : The Gujarat chief minister has the distinction of making the newsmakers' list ever since he took office, for reasons good and bad. This year, he does so for comprehensively throwing his hat in the ring as BJP's potential prime ministerial candidate for the next round of general elections. He fasted in summer, and refused to attend the BJP's national executive when he failed to prevent the re-entry of RSS man Sanjay Joshi into BJP. He flexed his muscle and made his pitch, gave anxious moments to LK Advani during his Rath Yatra and made friends with Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa. A rather busy year for the CM of just one of India's 26 states.

Ajay Maken: Sports minister Ajay Maken made all the right noises, from trying to make the BCCI accountable under RTI, to distancing the government from Suresh Kalmadi and the CWG scandal. He continued the good work by petitioning the International Olympic Committee to reject the sponsorship of Dow Chemicals because of its links to the Bhopal gas tragedy. The cherry on the cake was the tweaking of norms for awarding the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour, to include sportspersons too. Instead of Sachin Tendulkar, the first sportsman to receive it could well be hockey legend Dhyanchand, or at least that's what Maken's record points to.

J Jayalalithaa: The Tamil Nadu chief minister wasted no time after she took oath of office before signalling that she meant business. Court cases against DMK men in land-grabbing cases, and FIRs against the Maran brothers were filed with great alacrity. But taking on enemies was not all that she did; at her glittering oath-taking, she achieved the impossible, seating her allies, the Left parties, along with Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. She ended the year by severing ties with long-time aide Sasikala, a move that reassured all who know her that Amma, despite the years, is her own mercurial self.