NEW DELHI (TIP): Despite an apparent wave of Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) till recently, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) would have won 200- odd seats if the general elections were held in January 2014, the findings of the latest India Today Group’s Mood of the Nation opinion poll suggest.
The opinion poll gives the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) only around 100 seats, down by over 150 seats in the current Lok Sabha. It also underlines the significance of a possible Third Front in the forthcoming Lok Sabha election as the non- UPA, non-NDA parties and Independents are expected to win 220-odd seats.
The NDA thus crosses the 200-mark for the first time since 2010. Both, the NDA and the likely Third Front, gains substantially in numbers and vote share. The opinion poll suggests that the NDA’s vote share of 34 per cent will be significantly more than the UPA’s 23. However, the others will have the maximum vote share of 43 per cent. Under the leadership of Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) looks all set to become the single largest party as it is also likely to emerge the biggest gainer in the Lok Sabha polls.
Its 2009 tally of 116 is expected to rise to 188 in 2014, an increase of more than 60 per cent. Congress, under the leadership of its vice-president Rahul Gandhi, might win just 91 seats, as compared to its current tally of 206, a drop of about 55 per cent. The Congress ploy of propping AAP to counter Modi at the national level seems to have a limited impact, as Kejriwal’s gains are restricted to areas around Delhi and a few metro cities only.
Modi consolidates his position
Modi, who emerged as the strongest leader within his party after the BJP’s hat-trick in Gujarat in December 2012, cemented his position further through strong campaigning across the country. As the party’s lead campaigner in the recently held assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Delhi he consolidated his position further. In the latest India Today Mood of the Nation opinion poll, as many as 47 per cent people voted him as the best prime ministerial candidate against his previous best of 42 per cent polled in August 2013.
The Gandhi scion was way behind Modi with just 15 per cent votes, followed by Kejriwal with 9 per cent votes and 6 per cent votes each to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi. During these five months Modi was also able to improve his image from being a communal leader to being pro-development. To a question “what does Modi represent”, the option “communalism” saw a drop of 11 per cent from 18 per cent in August 2013, while “economic development” increased by 6 per cent to 30 per cent. The number of people thinking Modi should apologize for the 2002 Gujarat riots also fell drastically during this period to 39 per cent from the previous figure of 51 per cent.
Modi as a role model
The Gujarat chief minister emerged as a role model for the highest 17 per cent respondents, a gain of as much percentage as nobody earlier saw him as one among the overall personalities of India. Modi was followed by Kejriwal with 14 per cent votes, up from 2 per cent. Bollywood superstar Salman Khan too saw a big jump in his popularity as 10 per cent people saw him as a role model, up from the previous 1 per cent, followed by legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar’s 9 per cent against 2 per cent in the earlier opinion poll.Veteran anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare’s position as a role model remained unchanged with 7 per cent votes.