Narendra Modi-led government has every reason to cheer after a recent survey by Pew Research shows the prime minister's popularity across the country.
Narendra Modi-led government has every reason to cheer after a recent survey by Pew Research shows the prime minister’s popularity across the country. This comes as a special boost with Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh set to elect their state governments. The survey by the US think-tank also gives the main Opposition party Congress and its leader Rahul Gandhi many reasons to worry. For one, the survey reveals that three years into his government’s term, PM Modi still remains “very popular”. “Indians’ approval of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and their satisfaction with both their country’s direction and the state of its economy have grown in recent years,” says the survey. “Three years into Modi’s five-year tenure, the honeymoon period for his administration may be over but the public’s love affair with current conditions in India is even more intense,” it adds.
According to the survey, the broad public sentiment is in favour of government’s economic policies. This deals a blow to Congress campaign which is centered around questioning economic growth. Interestingly the survey was conducted within a few months of the bold demonetisation move. So, even as Congress continues to call demonetisation “organised loot and legalised plunder”, the public at large does not seem dissatisfied with the government. The only ray of hope for Congress is that the survey was conducted from February 21 to March 10, 2017. This means that it doesn’t take into account people’s response to the roll-out of one of the biggest reforms – GST (Goods and Services Tax). Congress has been projecting that traders, particularly smaller businesses, are unhappy with GST.
Nevertheless, these 10 points from the Pew Research should definitely make Rahul Gandhi and Congress sit up and take notice:
1. According to Pew Research, “Modi’s overwhelming popularity extends across India”. “At least nine-in-ten Indians in the southern states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Telangana and in the western states of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh hold a favorable view of the prime minister. The same is true for more than eight-in-ten in the eastern states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal and the northern states of Delhi, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh,” the survey says. This all encompassing support, especially in southern India, should ring alarm bells for Opposition parties.
2. Modi, says Pew Research, remains by far the “most popular national figure in Indian politics” tested in the survey. His favorable rating is 31 percentage points higher than that of Sonia Gandhi, and is 30 points more than that for Rahul Gandhi. While support for both Congress party leaders has gone up from 2013, but is still down 8 points for Sonia and 5 points for Rahul since 2016.
3. “The public’s positive assessment of Modi is buoyed by growing contentment with the Indian economy: More than eight-in-ten say economic conditions are good, up 19 percentage points since immediately before the 2014 election. And the share of adults who say the economy is very good (30%) has tripled in the past three years,” notes the survey.
4. According to the survey, seven-in-ten Indians are now satisfied with the way things are going in the country. This positive assessment of India’s direction has nearly doubled since 2014.
5. Backers of BJP express stronger support for the PM than do backers of Congress, the survey notes.
6. More than eight-in-ten (85%) voice trust in the national government, including 39% who express a lot of trust.
7. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of Indian adults say a lack of employment opportunities is a very big problem in India. A comparable share of the public (72%) approves of PM’s handling of this issue, and that assessment is up 10 points since 2016, the survey says.
8. Modi is very popular among men and women and among adults in both rural and urban areas.
9. Notably, 60% of Congress party supporters have a favorable view of the BJP. Just 45% of BJP backers hold a positive opinion of the Congress party.
10. About six-in-ten Indians express a positive opinion of the Congress party. Again, this is fairly consistent with past support. “But the gap between BJP and Congress backing, which was 26 points in 2015 and then narrowed to 13 points in 2016, has now widened again to 25 points,” the survey says.