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Singh makes a mark

New Delhi, Aug. 29: Housewives are not in good humour and “tainted” ministers have left a stubborn smudge on the collective conscience.

Still, within a short span of 100 days, Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister has clocked 39 per cent admirers — higher than the support for the overall performance of his government — in an opinion poll on the first three months of the new regime.

The findings of The Telegraph-STAR News opinion poll, carried out by AC Nielsen ORG-Marg, put Atal Bihari Vajpayee ahead on the Prime Minister meter with 54 per cent votes.

Singh’s 39 per cent is no mean achievement, considering his preference to stay away from the limelight. Singh also had to contend with the awesome familiarity factor of Vajpayee, whose party did not spare any effort while in power to convert him into a highly-visible mascot.

Besides, the most important factor that restricted Singh’s as well as his government’s rating appears to be price rise, one of the reasons for which was the Vajpayee regime’s reluctance to swallow the bitter pill during an election year.

Between 63 and 66 per cent of those who were polled felt that the new government has not been able to control inflation and price rise.

However, Singh does seem to have found a more receptive support base among two sections — students and the business class. Vajpayee’s popularity among the two sections matched the overall rating of 54 per cent but 42 per cent of the business players and 41 per cent of the students surveyed backed Singh as the better Prime Minister.

The government’s performance, too, won bigger support from students and business (37 per cent each) than the overall 33 per cent who felt that the Singh regime is better than its predecessor. The previous NDA government scraped through on this count with 34 per cent votes, while 31 per cent did not find any distinction between the two administrations.

The survey was carried out in Calcutta, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Ludhiana, Patna, Indore and Ahmedabad. The poll covered 1,076 males and 542 females.

There is bad news for the “tainted” ministers. An overwhelming 76 per cent of respondents said ministers with cases against them should be removed from power. The figure crept up to 79 per cent when students were polled.

The inevitable question —who is actually running the country — threw up the predictable response. As many as 52 per cent felt it was Sonia Gandhi, 34 per cent Singh, 6 per cent the Left and 2 per cent Laloo Prasad Yadav.

Housewives were the most harsh on the Singh government. Only 26 per cent said the new government was better than the Vajpayee government. Their pockets pinched, the service class, too, gave only 31 per cent votes to the government.

When it comes to fighting corruption, 23 per cent said the UPA was better than the NDA, 36 per cent felt that they were the same and 35 per cent put the present government behind its predecessor.

Will the current UPA government win if elections were held now' Forty-three per cent said “yes” and 47 per cent “no”.

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