66% of Indians surveyed, including Cong supporters, back Modi
WASHINGTON: Prime Minister Narendra Modi got a major boost ahead of his US trip next week with a survey by an American research agency reveling that two-thirds of Indians polled have a very favorable view of him and public satisfaction with India’s direction has nearly doubled from the time the Modi-led BJP government came to power.
In late 2013, a Pew Research Center survey found Indians were mired in dissatisfaction with the way things were going in India were only moderately satisfied with economic conditions; barely half had a favorable view of then-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. But the latest survey revealed three-quarters of the Indian public now think economic conditions are good and the high level of approval for Modi is two to three times that for the country’s other leading politicians.
“Modi’s appeal is a driving force behind this upsurge in Indians’ positive mood. Those who have a lot of confidence in Modi voice greater satisfaction with the direction of the country today than those with only some confidence in the PM. Respondents who have a lot of confidence in Modi also say the nation’s economic situation is very good. Those who have a lot of confidence in Modi are more likely to expect the economic situation in India to improve a lot over the next 12 months,” a note accompanying the survey observed.
Moreover, it said, Modi’s aura has reinvigorated Indians’ faith in their government. About two-thirds of respondents who have a lot of confidence in the prime minister say the influence of the national government is now very good.
However, the survey said Indians still feel underappreciated on the world stage, although their belief that India gets the respect it deserves is up 12 percentage points after Modi’s first year in office. More than seven-in-ten of those surveyed express a lot of confidence in Modi’s handling of international relations.
“The Modi phenomenon transcends India’s traditionally partisan politics. On most of the challenges facing the nation, the prime minister and his party enjoy support from both the BJP party faithful and followers of the opposition Congress party,” the the survey said.
In a blow to the Congress Party, the survey showed that Modi and the BJP now have greater backing than Congress in rural areas, traditionally a Congress stronghold. Roughly six-in-ten or more self-identified Congress supporters approve of Modi’s handling of a range of issues: access to clean toilets (66%), unemployment (62%), helping the poor (61%) and inflation (61%). And majorities of Congress backers approve of the prime minister’s efforts against terrorism (56%) and corruption (56%).
Communal relations is the only surveyed issue on which fewer than half of Congress followers approve of Modi’s efforts.
Modi has also succeeded in winning over rural Indians, both for his party and himself. The BJP is now slightly more popular in the Indian countryside than in its cities. And the party’s favorability now exceeds that of Congress in urban areas by 31 points (83% for BJP, 52% for Congress) and in rural India by 25 points (89% for BJP, 64% for Congress). Modi is more popular than presumptive Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi in both rural areas by 23 points (Modi 89%, Gandhi 66%) and in cities by 31 points (Modi 84%, Gandhi 53%).
Nevertheless, the survey said Indians believe their country still faces myriad challenges. More than eight-in-ten say crime, jobs, inflation and corruption are very big problems. Concern about air pollution is up 22 points in just the past year, complaints about poor-quality schools are up 20 points and worry about health care is up 15 points.