The year 2019 has almost come to close. Among other things, it witnessed the return to power of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a bigger majority than the one that brought him to power in 2014. However, as is with Indian politics, especially in an election year, headline-grabbing comments were made by politicians across party lines. While majority were outright controversial, others were rather bizarre. Here is a list of politicians who triggered a storm with their remarks in 2019.
1. Narendra Modi: The Prime Minister proved that he is still the country’s most popular politician and the leader to beat. However, on Balakot strikes, he confounded everyone when in an interview he said, “Experts were re-thinking the strike due to bad weather, but I said that so much cloud cover and rains could help us avoid Pakistan’s radar.” Also, commenting on then-Congress president Rahul Gandhi contesting the Lok Sabha elections from Kerala’s Wayanad (besides Amethi), Modi remarked that Rahul was doing so as ‘the majority is the minority in Wayanad.’ Rahul would eventually lose the Amethi seat to BJP’s Smriti Irani but won in Wayanad.
2. Yogi Adityanath: The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister stirred a major row by calling the armed forces ‘Modiji ki Sena (Modi ji’s forces),’ earning himself a warning from the Election Commission. He, however, got a 72-hour ban from campaigning for his ‘Ali-Bajrang Bali’ analogy and ended the year vowing ‘revenge’ on those who unleashed violence in Uttar Pradesh during the recent anti-CAA protests.
3. Amit Shah: The BJP president, now the Union Home Minister as well, remarked in Lok Sabha that former J&K Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, MP from Srinagar, who has been under house arrest since abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, was in fact at his home not under house arrest. “If he doesn’t want to come to Lok Sabha, we can’t bring him here pointing kanpatti par gun (gun on temple),” said the Home Minister.
4. Rahul Gandhi: The former Congress president raised the cry of ‘Chowkidaar Chor Hai (the watchman is a thief),’ targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the controversial Rafale fighter jet deal. The slogan fell flat as not only was the Congress routed in the general elections, complaints were filed against him over this remark. In addition to this, the Supreme Court chided him and also rejected review pleas against its previous Rafale judgement, ruling once and for all that there was no corruption in the deal. In recent days, he has been in controversy over his remark on rising incidents of rape in the country, calling India ‘the world’s rape capital’ and saying that ‘Make in India has now become Rape in India.’
5. Sam Pitroda: Chief of the Overseas Congress, Sam Pitroda, made a rather casual remark on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots when he said ‘Hua to Hua’ (whatever happened, happened) in response to a question on the same. While not really as ig as Manishankar Aiyar’s now-iconic ‘Chaiwala’ jibe, ‘Hua to Hua’ was still a huge self-goal for the Congress. He later ‘clarified’ that the comment was taken out of context as his Hindi wasn’t good.
6. Pragya Thakur: On 26/11 martyr Hemant Karkare, whom she accused of implicating her in Malegaon blast case and torturing her in custody, controversial BJP MP Pragya Singh Thakur said, “I told him his entire clan will be erased. He died due to his karma,” she said, earning a rap from the central poll body. Besides this, she has repeatedly called Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse a ‘patriot,’ and accused the opposition of using ‘Marak Shakti’ after deaths of several high-profile BJP leaders this year.
7. Azam Khan: The SP leader made one of the most shameful comments of the year when, talking about his rival from Rampur Lok Sabha constituency, then-newly inducted BJP leader Jaya Prada, he said, “I realised, in just 17 days, that she wears Khaki underwear.” The remark, made in reference to the colour of shorts of RSS members, brought him an FIR, as well as a 48-hour poll campaign ban.
8. Jaya Bachchan: The legendary former Bollywood actress, who, like Azam Khan, belongs to the SP, proposed in the Rajya Sabha that ‘rapists should be lynched publically.’ The remark was made during a discussion in the upper house on the gruesome Hyderabad gang-rape and murder case and women’s safety in general.
9. BJP leaders on economy: With a tanking economy, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has had a tough time in office but made it worse for herself as she ‘blamed’ millennials for the crisis, remarking, “Auto sector is in crisis as millennials prefer to use Ola-Uber instead of buying automobiles.” More was to come from her, however, when commenting on the onion price rise, she said, “I don’t eat onions as I am from a family which doesn’t use onions much.” Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, too, ‘dismissed’ economic downturn, saying, “How can be there an economic downturn when three Bollywood films made Rs 120 crore on October 2, a national holiday?”
10. Asaduddin Owaisi: The ever-so-articulate AIMIM chief expressed his dissatisfaction with the Supreme Court’s landmark Ayodhya case verdict (giving the entire disputed site to the Hindu side and an alternate five-acre land to Muslims), that he remarked, “The Supreme Court is indeed supreme but not infallible,” quoting former Chief Justice of India Justice JS Verma.