By Arun Kumar, Washington, Feb 27 IANS | 5 months ago

A survey by a leading US think tank has found that Indians expect the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to do a better job in facing the various challenges faced by India.


The survey by Pew Research Centre also suggests that BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is more popular than Congress vice-president and putative prime ministerial candidate Rahul Gandhi.

Indians by a margin of more than three-to-one, would prefer the BJP to lead the next Indian government rather than the Congress, according to the poll.

Seven-in-ten Indians are dissatisfied with the way things are going in India today.

And by a margin of better than two-to-one, the public, according to the poll, says the BJP would do a better job on each of a half dozen challenges facing the nation -- from combating corruption to fighting terrorism.

The Pew survey results are based on face-to-face interviews with 2,464 randomly selected adults across India between Dec 7 and Jan 12. The margin of error is 3.8 percent.

Dissatisfaction with recent developments in India is remarkably widespread among both BJP supporters and Congress backers; among young and old; among rich and poor; and among city dwellers and rural residents, the survey says.

But views of the major parties vary across the country, with support for a BJP-led government strongest in the north of India.

However, backing for the BJP is roughly equal in both rural and urban areas despite Congress's deep roots in rural India and its efforts to cement rural political support through employment and food security programmes.

Pew Research centre said its survey did not directly ask about vote choice or the likelihood that a respondent would vote, and it could not gauge the level of support for either the BJP or Congress in particular constituencies.

But it reveals a widespread desire among Indians for a change in leadership.

More than six-in-ten Indians (63 percent) prefer the BJP to lead the next Indian national government. Just two-in-ten (19 percent) pick the Congress, according to the poll. Other parties have the support of 12 percent of the public.

BJP backing is consistent across age groups. And support is almost equal between rural (64 percent) and urban (60 percent) Indians, it said.

Roughly eight-in-ten Indians (78 percent) have a favourable view of Modi, compared with 16 percent who hold an unfavourable view.

Modi's support is especially high in the North, and he is seen favourably in both rural and urban areas and among high and low income and well educated and less educated Indians.

Rahul Gandhi is seen favourably by 50 percent of those surveyed and unfavourably by 43 percent, the survey said.

Gandhi's favourability is fairly consistent across demographic groups and his regional support is strongest in the eastern part of the country: in the states of Odisha, Bihar, West Bengal and Jharkhand.

There is a notable difference between the intensity of support for Modi and Gandhi, the poll said.

Fully 60 percent of those surveyed say they have a very favourable view of the Gujarat chief minister, while just 23 percent of the public have a very favourable opinion of the Congress leader.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi is seen favourably by 49 percent of the public. But 46 percent have an unfavourable view of her. She too has her greatest support in the east.

Roughly half of Indians (52 percent) have a favourable view of outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. But 42 percent view him unfavourably.

Social activist Anna Hazare is seen favourably by 69 percent of the public, making him the second most popular of the national figures tested in the survey.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

(Posted on 27-02-2014)