The Telegraph
Sunday , March 30 , 2014
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Survey poses last-lap riddle for Modi camp

New Delhi, March 29: The BJP continues to hold a significant lead over the Congress although it has lost some ground since February while the Congress has improved, a national opinion poll by ABP News-Nielsen suggests.

The NDA is projected to win 233 seats in the elections that begin next month, a loss of five seats since February. The UPA is forecast to get 119 seats, a gain of 27. The NDA vote share has been put at 32 per cent and that of the UPA at 26 per cent.

The BJP alone is predicted to bag 209 seats, which would be a record for the party but is eight seats less than what the same poll had forecast in February.

For Narendra Modi’s party, the losses over the previous tally would be bad news, if they are seen as a sign that the hype around the BJP is losing steam as the election dates draw closer.

The Congress, by comparison, has showed significant improvement with the opinion poll projecting that it would get 91 seats, a gain of 18 over the February tally of 73. But in spite of the climb, the Congress is still staring at a big defeat, the survey suggests.

Modi’s popularity as prime ministerial candidate has shown a marginal dip — in February, 57 per cent of the respondents had endorsed him but the survey released today shows the figure dipping to 54 per cent.

The support for Rahul Gandhi as candidate for Prime Minister remains static at 18 per cent.

One significant difference over last month is that the latest survey has been carried out after the BJP has announced most of its candidates.

The loss in the BJP figure over February could possibly be the result of local factors coming into play against the candidates. Reports of bad choice of candidates have been pouring in from the two key states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, where the BJP hopes to bag a good share of the seats.

The survey also suggests that the BJP might have peaked in February and was not likely to win more than 217 seats, and the NDA 236. Although this would be the best-ever performance of the BJP and the NDA, it would be well short of the halfway mark of 272.

By the same logic, the 73 seats forecast for the Congress in February was the lowest and the party could only improve on it, the survey suggests.

The BJP is shown leading in the north, east and west while the Congress is taking a lead in the south.

The Trinamul Congress is projected to remain steady and win 28 seats, a loss of just one since the survey in February. The Left, in comparison, is down from 29 to 23.