India Today released the results of its bi-annual survey titled the recently. The previous survey was released in January 2021. The survey was conducted between July 10 and July 20, 2021 across 115 parliamentary and 230 assembly constituencies in 19 states on 14,559 respondents.
Among the issues covered by the survey are the COVID-19 pandemic, the state of the Indian economy, and the performance of the Narendra Modi-led NDA government.
The insights from the survey reveal worrying signals for both the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress, with regional parties and leaders gaining ground.
1. Dip in Modi’s popularity ratings, not seized by Congress
Narendra Modi has witnessed a 14% decline in support for the “Best Choice for Prime Minister” question. However, the solace for the BJP is that Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and not Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is the number two choice with 11% support. In terms of support for PM Modi, the BJP as a party leads the race despite a 14% decline.
Regional satraps like Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee gain at the expense of the Congress.
Support for a prime minister from the BJP is more than the aggregate support for a prime minister from the Congress or regional parties.
Source: India Today
2. Inflation biggest failure of Modi 2.O
Almost 49% of the respondents rated Modi’s handling of the COVID-19 situation as outstanding / good. This is a sharp drop from 73% in January 2019.
The fuel price hikes which have resulted in petrol crossing the Rs 100 per litre mark and recent bouts of high inflation has resulted in price rise becoming the 2nd biggest problem which country faces and the biggest failure of the Modi government.
Further, 60% respondents feel the government has not done enough to control inflation compared to 35% in January 2021.
Pegasus is not a big issue, Congress should focus on issues affecting the common man. BJP should not forget that high inflation has in the past led to the downfall of many governments. Hence it needs to act soon.
Source: India Today
3. Almost half of the respondents feel Gandhi’s exit will benefit the Congress
Almost 45% respondents (-7%) feel that Congress will be better off without the Gandhis. 46% (+11%) feel otherwise. The increase in support for the Gandhis since January 2021 could be on account of their successful handling of the Punjab crisis and Rahul’s renewed / energised activity levels in the Parliament session.
The fact that almost half of the respondents agree that the Gandhi should exit means they need to do some soul searching.
4. 1/3rd feel economy will deteriorate in next 6 months
The sentiment of the respondents is negative with respect to the economic environment. 33% (double that of January 2021) feel the economy will deteriorate in the next six months. 21% (half of January 2021) feel the economy will improve while 43% (+7%) feel it will remain the same.
This highlights pessimism among the large section of the population and highlights the fact that markets (which are at record highs) do not represent the actual sentiment on the ground. The percentage of respondents (47%) rating the centre’s handling of the economy as good or outstanding is the lowest since 2016. 46% (+7%) feel only big businesses have benefited from the Modi government’s economic policies.
Only 28% people now feel that their economic status has improved during Modi’s tenure. This number used to be in the 45%-50% range during August 2019 to January 2021. The economic devastation caused by the pandemic deficiently has a role to play in this drop.
5. All of the top 5 CMs from regional parties
Respondents from states were asked to rate their chief ministers. Tamil Nadu’s M K Stalin, Odisha’s Naveen Patnaik, Kerala’s Pinayari Vijayan, Maharashtra’s Uddhav Thackeray and West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee received the highest positive ratings in their states.
People seem to be more positive about the governance of regional parties than national parties.
In the Top 11, there are two BJP (Himanta Biswa Sarma and Yogi Adityanath) and two Congress chief ministers (Ashok Gehlot and Bhupesh Baghel). Yogi reported a positive rating of 29%, which is low given the polls next year.
Learnings for BJP & INC
While this is still a survey and there could be some inaccuracies, there are clear lessons for both the national parties which they can’t afford to ignore.
BJP: The economy remains the biggest challenge for the party. While the pandemic is partly to blame for the slowdown, people are feeling the pinch of inflation and the government will need to take steps to bring relief to the poor and middle class.
Congress: The party needs to sort out its leadership issue soon. It needs to raise real issues concerning the people. The regional parties are gaining ground and a federal front of sorts could displace Congress as the only alternative to BJP nationally if it doesn’t pull up its socks.