Mood of the Nation: India Today survey gives NDA slight edge over UPA for 2014 LS polls
This might deal a blow to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) as it comes nearly a year before the country goes to election, but the current regime has been on the downhill of its popularity and the slope is only getting steeper for the government.
Be it the ever relevant issues of corruption and inflation or a host of social issues, particularly women's safety, the UPA-2 has failed to meet people's expectations miserably, findings of India Today-Nielsen's latest biannual opinion poll "Mood of the Nation" suggest.
NDA versus UPA
Despite periodic infighting within the BJP as well as the NDA, they gained at the cost of the UPA. However, the UPA's loss did not seem to be transforming into complete gain for the NDA alone as "others" shared the benefit significantly.
The latest survey gives NDA 203 seats out of 543 as against its actual 2009 Lok Sabha election result of 159. The UPA tally dropped from 259 to 157 during the same period, while others shot to 183 from 125.
Vote percentage-wise, however, the NDA did not gain much as compared to 2009 results. The survey indicated its gain at just 1.6 per cent to be at around 27 per cent. UPA finished ahead of NDA at around 28 per cent, a fall of 7.7 per cent from 2009.
Modi versus Rahul
The survey found that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has become more popular over the last six months, even as Rahul Gandhi emerged as a strong candidate within the Congress for prime minister's post.
Even as their respective parties have repeatedly refused to draw a comparison between the two, India Today asked people whom they wanted to see as prime minister -- the Gandhi scion or the Gujarat BJP heavyweight. The outcome was not surprising.
As many as 57 per cent people spoke in favour of Modi, while only 41 per cent supported Gandhi, who was recently elevated as the second-in-command of the Congress by occupying the position of vice-president.
To a question on Gandhi as Congress's prime ministerial candidate, as many as 52 per cent said "yes", while 36 per cent respondents said "no". In a similar question for Modi as the BJP's candidate, 54 per cent were in his favour and 26 per cent against.
Manmohan's report card
The Manmohan Singh government failed to meet people's expectations on almost all the key issues the nation talked about in the last six months. Ironically, the UPA-2 regime saw politicians (58 per cent) being declared more corrupt than police (24 per cent).
Asked about the prime minister's performance in last three years, 39 per cent people rated it as "average", 27 per cent as "poor" and 26 per cent as "good". The overall performance of the government stood a little better with 42 per cent people giving it "average" rating, followed by 27 per cent "poor" and only 23 per cent as "good".
The government's economic reforms got a big thumb down with 49 per cent people saying they were "not satisfied", while 37 per cent people found it satisfactory. As many as 40 per cent people did not welcome government's decision to increase the FDI limit in multi-brand retail.
The December 16 Delhi gangrape evoked a massive national uproar and the need was felt for an overhaul of the existing system. Activists, politicians and common man agreed that a lot was required to be done immediately to make women feel safer, be it at home or outside.
Respondents were asked whether women should step outside alone at night. Both men and women agreed that it was unsafe for the fairer sex to venture out in the dark. While 52 per cent of male respondents were against it, 44 per cent felt women can go out even at night. Among female respondents, 52 per cent felt unsafe to go out alone at night, while 38 per cent felt it okay.
A whopping 87 per cent people advocated capital punishment to rapists and only 10 per cent voted against it. Asked about government's response to spontaneous protests to the gangrape case, 40 per cent felt it "lacked planning" and 30 per cent said it was "harsh".
Kejriwal loses ground as politician
Activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal took an aggressive stance against the politicians with his sensational "Kejri-leaks". He even took up some social cause as he forayed into politics dissociating himself from Anna Hazare-led non-political campaign.
However, people felt that he was better as an activist than being a politician. As many as 40 per cent people wanted to see the Aam Admi Party (AAP) founder as an anti-corruption activist, while 32 per cent were happy to see him in politics.
When asked if they would support AAP, 36 per cent respondents' reply was negative, while 30 per cent people committed their support to the party.
(A note* can be included at the bottom of the story. But it needs to go after the magazine story is published on the website or by tomorrow evening.)
The complete report on the Mood of the Nation survey can be found in the latest issue of India Today. The issue hits news stands this Friday.