NEW DELHI (TIP):
While BJP and allies tussle over Narendra Modi’s candidature for the prime minister’s post and the party itself maintains a studied silence, a majority of urban Indians think the Gujarat CM should be the next PM.
In a survey conducted in 28 cities across the country by a Hindi news channel and Nielsen, Modi has emerged as the favourite ahead of even Rahul Gandhi and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar. While 42% of respondents wanted Modi as the next PM, only 29% were for Rahul Gandhi. Nitish Kumar got 12% in his favour.
The survey indicates a steady decline in Congress’s popularity. If elections were held now, 27% potential voters would go with the saffron party, while only 18% would choose Congress. The dislike for the Congress is such that 46% respondents said they would not vote for a Congress led by Rahul Gandhi. PM Manmohan Singh’s ratings are even poor. Almost 68% believe his performance ranges from average to very poor, even though 66% feel he is non-corrupt but tolerates corrupt ministers.
Only 66% of those who voted for Congress during 2009 Lok Sabha elections, are still intending to vote for it. However, the BJP is gaining only 8% of this vote swing. At the same time, for the BJP, 82% of its voters will stick with it and the Congress would gain only 4% out of this exodus, clearly showing an opportunity for regional parties to do well in urban centres.
On Modi, the survey shows that he is favourite even within the BJP. He gets almost double the responses in his favour as against party veteran L K Advani (51% to Advani’s 28%). Respondents also feel that if Modi is chosen PM candidate opposing allies (read JD-U) will eventually come around.
Urban voters, however, do not exonerate the Gujarat CM for 2002 riots completely and feel that he must apologize for it. About 44% cent respondents feel if Modi apologizes, his chances would improve whereas 39% feel there is no need for him to say sorry
Interestingly, the issue of coalgate that has put Parliament under seize at the moment, hasn’t stirred such strong emotions among the people in the metros. In fact, 51% agree to government’s ‘zero loss’ theory as no coal has been mined. In case there is a loss to the nation, 45% feel Congress is responsible, while 36% blame both the Congress and the BJP. The PM is held responsible for it by 55% respondents. Importantly, a good 67% feel that electricity prices will go up if coal mines are auctioned.
Interestingly, however, both the Congress and the BJP have lost confidence of urban voters. The combined response for willingness to vote for these two parties was less than 50%, even though BJP is ahead of Congress among voters.
Part of this may be attributed to the Anna Hazare movement and the survey reflects the growing trend, with people showing overwhelming support for Team Anna entering politics and respondents hailing the activist as the country’s role model.
The PM’s decline has been Hazare’s gain. For all those predicting Team Anna’s decision to enter politics as a doomed effort, urban voters have thrown their weight behind the activists. About 64% respondents said the decision to join politics is right and an overwhelming 77% said they would vote for Team Anna candidates in elections. Anna also emerges as country’s top role model with Dr A P J Abdul Kalam (both bagging 12% responses in their favour).
Not surprisingly, Baba Ramdev despite his massive rallies in Delhi has been left behind in the race. On being asked who is more credible, a whopping 75% responded in favour of Anna, while only 12% favoured Ramdev. In north India, where Ramdev should have had more support, it turns out that Anna rules the roost with a 79% to 11% rating.