Scorched by electoral setbacks in the recent assembly polls, the BJP, under PM Narendra Modi, entered its eighth year in office at the Centre. Hammered by accusations of mishandling the Covid pandemic, wrecking the economy, riding roughshod over independent institutions and stifling all dissent, the BJP appears vulnerable, both nationally and in the states. Yet, its principal political rival, the Congress, continues to grapple with a deepening existential crisis marked by recurring electoral reverses and internal squabbles. Meanwhile, regional satraps like the TMC’s Mamata Banerjee, the CPI(M)’s Pinarayi Vijayan and the DMK’s M.K. Stalin have emerged as the new faces of resistance against the BJP. In an interview to Puneet Nicholas Yadav, senior Congress leader and former Union minister Ashwani Kumar explains the need for his party to effect a much-delayed course correction and why he thinks the Congress must take the lead in forging a broad federal front to take on Modi in 2024. Edited excerpts:
PM Narendra Modi and the BJP are facing the first sustained wave of criticism over alleged mishandling of the Covid crisis, deteriorating social cohesion and a stagnant economy.