People showered flower petals on the PM who greeted and waved to the supporters as he walked to the venue.
The ruling BJP’s euphoria over its record-breaking victory in the assembly elections got dampened with the demise of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mother Hiraba at the ripe age of 100 just a day before the year rolled out.
With her departure, Modi lost the unique distinction of being India’s only Prime Minister who had his matriarch alive. Though a personal loss, Hiraba’s demise had its impact on the state’s collective psyche as Modi remains rooted in his native state.
Earlier in December, his ruling BJP won 156 of the 182 seats in the assembly, the highest ever after former chief minister Madhavsinh Solanki had led the Congress to win 149 seats.
Not only the BJP increased its vote share to more than 50 per cent, but the Congress was also reduced to a meager figure of 17 seats – not even entitled to the official status of a Leader of Opposition.
The assembly elections in Gujarat also made Delhi-based Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) a ecognized national party despite winning only five seats in Gujarat.
But the year 2022 had started with the tragic news of a young family from Gujarat freezing to death while illegally crossing over to USA from Canada, prompting authorities in three countries to start investigations into human trafficking rackets originating here.
Unnatural deaths haunted Gujarat on many more occasions, including the collapse of a century-old hanging bridge in Morbi killing at least 135 people on 30th October.
At least 45 people died in a hooch tragedy in July, confirming once again that the six-decade-old prohibition policy has not worked in the state where Mahatma Gandhi was born.
Death of workers continued due to blasts and leaks in chemical units and inside manholes of cleaners forced to enter the sewer lines without safety gears.
The state hogged the headlines also on 15 August when it pre-maturely released all the convict of the infamous gang rape of Bilqis Bano during the VHP-sponsored bandh to avenge the killing of 58 passengers in the Sabarmati Express inferno at Godhra in February 2002.
Superstitions too had a free run in the state as a 14-year-old girl was sacrificed by her family in the Gir Somnath district during Navratri, albeit as advised by a black magician (Tantrik) who promised that getting rid of the ‘evil spirit’ would bring them prosperity.
A Rajkot-based rationalist had also exposed some ‘astrologers’ who were exploiting women monetarily on the eve of Raksha Bandhan by forecasting ‘auspicious’ moments to tie the knot of fraternal bondage.
The menace of stray cattle and the fight over their removal by municipal staff remained the bone of contention, with the high court reprimanding them several times.
The legislative assembly even passed a law to regulate the stray cattle menace, but it was withdrawn following widespread agitation by the owners who alleged that they are compelled to leave the cows on roads as the authorities have handed over all grazing land to industries and real estate dealers.