Psephologist Yogendra Yadav agreed that by PM Modi is ahead in the race, there is a sharp decline in his popularity. “It is quite clear that Narendra Modi is ahead of Rahul Gandhi. In 2014, Modi’s popularity was almost double that of Rahul, Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi combined. A year ago, in May 2017, Modi’s popularity was three times that of Rahul, Sonia and Manmohan put together. Today, it’s one-and-a-half times. On the government’s popularity, it is nowhere close to what it was a year ago,” he said.
Political scientist Sandeep Shastri said, “While Modi is ahead of Rahul, the gap has decreased. The BJP would want it to be a leadership contest while the Congress would not. At this point in time, it is the structure of the competition that seems to suggest a much closer race. The popularity of a leader does not necessarily translate into seats for a party.”
However, political analyst Manisha Priyam had a different point to make. “Modi is ahead but he doesn’t really cross the 50 percent mark in any of the categories. It is noteworthy that the “others” category, which is faceless, has a significant 20-25 percent votes. If the slide happens, and it is happening as far as Modi is concerned, it could swing towards a third candidate. The year 2019 is going to be an aggregate of state elections, and the real challenge could be the others category combined with Rahul Gandhi.”
Asked about the performance of the central government, 44 percent of respondents across India found it to be satisfactory. Another 30 percent expressed dissatisfaction while 20 percent rated it average.
The BJP and its allies govern 70 percent of the states, and in terms of Lok Sabha, that’s a big lead. In the past four-and-half-years, the BJP’s vote share over 2014 Lok Sabha elections has gone up by 12 percent
– Amit Malviya, leader, BJP
The PSE observed that more voters are happy with the Modi government at the Centre in both BJP and non-BJP-ruled states. The breakdown of the findings gave that 48 percent of the voters in the 19 NDA-ruled states were satisfied with the central government compared to 29 percent who were not. In the remaining 11 non-BJP states, 39 percent found the Modi administration satisfactory as against the negative voting of 32 percent.
Showing confidence in his party, BJP leader Amit Malviya said, “The BJP and its allies govern 70 percent of the states, and in terms of Lok Sabha, that’s a massive lead. In the past four-and-half-years, the BJP’s vote share over 2014 Lok Sabha elections has gone up by 12 percent.”
Yadav said the present chaos in the country involving its top agencies could harm the BJP’s prospects. “There is no way the BJP can touch or cross 200. If the three ‘Is’ — CBI, RBI, and the CJI — take the more stiff turn, things could get much worse for the BJP. From Congress’s point of view, it is unable to create any hope and excitement. There is no place where the Congress is gaining new grounds,” he said.
However, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera highlighted his party’s efforts in bringing up issues. “The voters are forcing politicians to change partners, and that in itself is an indication that all is not well with Modi and his family. We have been raising the right issues from farmers to women’s safety, corruption, petrol-diesel to unemployment,” he asserted.
Remember, the BJP and allies govern Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Assam, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Tripura, Nagaland, and Sikkim. Together, they make up 318 Lok Sabha constituencies.
Another 214 seats come from 11 non-BJP states — West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Kerala, Telangana, Punjab, Delhi, Mizoram, and Puducherry.
Fifty-one percent of voters in the NDA-ruled states want Modi as the next prime minister compared to 29 percent seeking Gandhi for that role, the PSE showed. In the non-BJP states, 40 percent support the PM and 34 percent the Congress president, according to the survey.
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and BSP leader Mayawati won two percent support each as potential candidates for the prime minister. Telangana CM K Chandrashekar Rao, his Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik, NCP leader Sharad Pawar, and the SP’s Akhilesh Yadav won one percent support each for the PM’s role, the PSE showed.
Forty-two percent of the respondents found sanitation as a major issue across India, followed by price rise, farm-related difficulties, unemployment, and drinking water supplies.