US' Pew Research Centre, claiming to be “a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world”, in its latest survey has found that at the end of two years of his tenure, Prime Minister Narendra Modi “continues to ride a wave of public good feeling about the way things are going in India.”
Even as admitting that Modi's popularity is “down slightly from 2015” (from 87% in 2015 to 81% in 2016), its survey report says, “About two-thirds of the Indian public is satisfied with the direction of the country and eight-in-ten think the economy is doing well.”
Titled “India and Modi: The Honeymoon Continues”, the report, available online, says, while Modi's BJP remains popular, “Two-thirds of the public sees the Indian National Congress party in a favorable light and accords two of the leaders of that party – Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi – similarly strong favourable ratings.”
Thus, if 58% of those surveyed said in 2015 that they viewed Sonia Gandhi “favourably”, this has gone up to 65% in 2016. As for Rahul Gandhi, if the survey is to be believed, he has slightly improved his position in one year, from 62 to 63 per cent.
The report underlines, and this is interesting, “Notably, roughly half of BJP supporters voice a favourable view of the Gandhis (both 52%) and a majority has a favorable view of Congress (56%).” It adds, “Roughly half of the public sees the Aam Aadmi Party (47%) and Arvind Kejriwal, the party’s national convenor (50%), favorably.”
Thus, it underlines, “When it comes to views of his leadership, roughly six-in-ten Indians who identify with the BJP see Modi as a unifying figure who stands up for what he believes and gets things done. Only about four-in-ten Congress adherents agree.”
Yet, the report says, “A growing number of Indians, roughly two-thirds (65%), are satisfied with the way things are going in their country”, with the satisfaction level going up by 9 % since 2015 and 29% points since 2014.”
“About six-in-ten (62%) Indians approve of Modi’s handling of unemployment”, the report says, adding, “About six-in-ten overall (61%) approve of Modi’s handling of terrorism... A roughly comparable segment of the Indian public as a whole (59%) voices support for Modi’s handling of corruption.”
Based on face-to-face interviews with 2,464 respondents in 16 states, conducted under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates International in April-May 2016, the survey report says, “Eight-in-ten Indians believe their economy is doing well, up 16 points since 2014”, even as admitting there is a deep regional divide.
Ironically, when the BJP's grip in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, going to the polls early next year, is reportedly at stake, the report claims, “People in the northern states of Delhi, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh express the most satisfaction (71%) with the direction of the country.”
But the report admits, 58% of North Indians don't think the economy is doing well. “Roughly four- in-ten living in the north say the economy is doing very well (42%), while people living in the western states of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh (26%) and in the south (30%) are less likely than those in the north to believe the economy is performing very well.”