New Delhi gang rape protests
Demonstrators shout slogans as police use water cannons to disperse them near the presidential palace during a protest rally in New DelhiReuters

The year 2012 witnessed several popular and controversial political events.

Here are ten events of the political sphere that grabbed nation-wide attention:

1. Coalgate: Based on the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report brought out in March, Team Anna slapped corruption charges against 15 cabinet members including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The report stated that the Coal Ministry, which was under the PM's responsibility from 2006 to 2009, had allocated 155 coal blocks to as many as 100 private and state-run companies without auction, thus causing huge loss to the state exchequer a huge loss. After a CBI probe, a case was file against five companies that mislead the screening committee about their operations in the allocation of coal blocks in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.

2. Northeast Exodus: Assam witnessed the worst ethnic riots between the Bodos and migrant minorities in July. Thousands of lives were lost and lakhs were left homeless. The riots became a national issue after messages warning of attacks on northeast migrants spread throughout the country. This led to a mass exodus of northeast people from many states including Bangalore, Chennai and Mumbai.

3. Presidential Elections: Taking over the position of India's top position from Pratibha Patil, was former finance minister Pranab Mukherjee who was sworn in as the 13th president on July 25.

4. FDI Row: The ruling UPA government permitted foreign direct investment (FDI) in various sectors including retail, insurance, pension and aviation. Amidst huge controversies and opposition from several political parties, the government secured majority votes in both lower and upper house of parliament in favour of FDI.

On Sept 18, the Trinamool Congress party (TMC), staged a walkout from the Congress-led coalition over demands on the rollback of the big-bang reforms introduced by the Centre in September. TMC chief Mamata Banerjee had demanded the government to reverse its decision on raising diesel prices and opening India's retail sector to foreign investors.

5. Maharashtra Irrigation Scam: Corruption charges were slapped against BJP President Nithin Gadkeri by activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal in October. Kejriwal said that Gadkeri expanded his business empire by targeting the lands owned by farmers of Vidarbha.

6. DFL Controversy: As an eventful year for controversies, corruption charges were also slapped against Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law, Robert Vadra. The allegations, made by the Kejriwal-led India Against Corruption organization, stated that that real estate giant DLF had sold prime land in Delhi and nearby areas to Vadra at throwaway prices. Vadra was also alleged to have been given interest-free loans.

7. Ajmal Kasab's Hanging: On Nov 21, lone terrorist of Mumbai bomb blast Ajmal Kasab was hanged in secrecy at Pune's Yerwada jail. The report of his execution was later revealed by Maharashtra Home Minister R.R. Patil. The executed took place following the rejection of his mercy appeal to President President Pranab Mukherjee.

8. Aam Aadmi Launch: After a bitter split from anti-corruption activist Anna Hazzare, Kejriwal launched his "Aam Aadmi Party" on Nov 26 at Jantar Mantar in Delhi.

9. Gujarat Elections: Chief Minister Narendra Modi won a hat-trick victory in the state Assembly elections on Dec 20. His party bagged 116 seats to the 182-member state Assembly, pushing Modi back on the saddle for the third time as chief minister.

10. Delhi Gang-Rape Protests: The death of a 23-year-old girl, who was gang-rape by six men on Dec 16, led to mass protests across the country. The protestors marched to Rashtrapati Bhavan seeking speedy justice for the victim. The demonstrations turned violent at India Gate leading to the death of a police constable. Several protestors and police officers were also injured in the violence. The government is under constant scrutiny over the matter and is blamed for not coming up with stringent laws to punish offenders. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi has assured speedy justice for the victim and appealed for calm.