The year 2012 would be remembered as one of the most difficult years for the Congress-led UPA government (in fact, the entire tenure of the UPA-2 has been mired in controversies over corruption scams, policy paralysis etc).
After keeping it in cold storage for long, the UPA government re-launched a bid to bring in 51% foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, amid accusations of policy paralysis in the government. Though the government this time modified the policy and allowed the states to take their decision on allowing FDI in multi-brand retail, Mamata Banerjee quit anyway. She has been one of the most vocal voices against FDI in retail, saying the decision will hurt farmers and small retailers. The decision also led to major uproar in Parliament’s Winter Session and had to be put to vote. The UPA triumphed in both the Houses, thanks to direct and indirect support from the BSP and SP.
However, the two allies who support the UPA from outside got involved in a fierce battle in the Rajya Sabha over the Quota in Promotions Bill. While BSP chief Mayawati forced the government to table the Bill in the Upper House, the SP warned it would not let the House function if the Bill was tabled.
During the year, the tussle between the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India and the UPA government continued, mainly over the report on the coal blocks allocation. After pegging the 2G scam presumptive loss at a massive Rs 1.76 lakh crore, the coal blocks allocation scam, which came to be popularly known as Coalgate, was presumed to have caused a loss of Rs 1.86 lakh crore by the CAG. Since the coal blocks were mainly allotted during the period when PM Manmohan Singh held the coal portfolio, he too came under the direct attack of the Opposition. While the government denied any scam and refuted the loss figure, an inter-ministerial panel which reviewed the allocations did recommend scrapping of several allotments both to private players and PSUs, over various reasons including favouritism and delay in execution of projects.
PM Manmohan Singh also came under attack from the international media, after the prestigious TIME magazine dubbed him as an underachiever over the policy paralysis that was bogging his government. The major pro-economic reforms that the UPA government initiated in the later part of the year were seen as a move to rebut those allegations.
In the middle of the year, the northeastern state of Assam, mainly Kokrajhar, witnessed fierce clashes between the ethnic Bodos and the immigrant Bengali-speaking Muslims. The clashes started on the issue of land encroachment and led to nearly 100 deaths. Nearly five lakh people were displaced in the violence that raged during July-September period. While the clashes were quelled following deployment of the Army and Central paramilitary forces, November also reported fresh violence and deaths. Other parts of the country, especially Maharashtra, had also witnessed violence as a repercussion of clashes in Assam.