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Future read: Editorial on CSDS-Lokniti’s pre-poll survey suggesting Modi’s popularity among voters

The survey’s identification of collective ambivalence towards what the Opposition believes are the arrows in its quiver could tilt the scales further in the Bharatiya Janata Party’s favour

The Editorial Board Published 16.04.24, 08:10 AM
Narendra Modi

Narendra Modi File Photo

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s manifesto for this year’s general election, while making noise on a number of achievements and pledges, is conspicuously silent on one issue — unemployment. Unlike in the past, when the BJP promised to create two crore jobs annually, this year’s manifesto speaks of making India a manufacturing hub. The document’s ambiguity on job creation — the chief economic adviser is on record, suggesting that an elected government cannot resolve the problem of unemployment — could be an outcome of ground realities. The findings of a recent pre-poll survey by CSDS-Lokniti indicated that one of the principal reasons for disenchantment among those opposed to re-electing the Narendra Modi government to power — they are outnumbered by those who want Mr Modi to return for a third term — is the state of the economy. Two out of three respondents critical of Mr Modi’s regime referred to rising unemployment and inflation and falling income under Mr Modi’s watch.

This disaffection, even though it is not numerically significant, should have brought a wind in the sails of the Opposition’s unsteady ship. But it appears that Mr Modi and his party can afford to tide over the choppy waters of the economy on account of their ability to conflate, in a manner of speaking, the Church and the State. The steps to consolidate what the BJP claims is the Hindu identity, from the instrumental use of polarisation to, most crucially, the consecration and building of the Ram temple, have, the survey suggests, insulated the regime from a possible public backlash on account of its poor performance in resolving economic challenges. Perceptions seem to be in Mr Modi’s favour too. For instance, the prime minister’s claim, supported by a propaganda blitzkrieg, of an improvement in India’s international stature has found many takers. This only reiterates two facts: first, that the BJP is a master of spin and, second, the Opposition is yet to master the art of reading the BJP’s googlies. The survey’s identification of collective ambivalence towards what the Opposition believes are the arrows in its quiver — be it the caste census or the revocation of Article 370 in Kashmir — could tilt the scales further in the BJP’s favour. Surveys, of course, are seldom foolproof. But the fickleness of political fates notwithstanding, the news from the ground borne by such surveys is unlikely to be music to the ears of India’s beleaguered Opposition.

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