The credibility of the scandal-ridden UPA Government has touched an all-time low as it flounders from crisis to crisis and seeming not able to put one foot right - the latest instances being its callous indifference as Telangana burns, and its cluelessness about the alarming coal shortage and near-death situation in power plants all over the country.
It is only to be expected then that the October round of the monthly LensOnNews tracking poll should find that 72% of the respondents say they are dissatisfied with the performance of the UPA Government at the Centre with only 24 % saying they are satisfied. These numbers are no different from those of a month ago, and are sharply worse than those recorded in August.
Though Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s personal ratings on his performance as PM are a little better than that of his Government (68% saying they are dissatisfied, against 29% saying they are satisfied), there has actually been a deterioration in his ratings successively over the last two months.
With talk of the possibility of early mid-term polls becoming common in all quarters, it is significant that the LensOnNews poll shows a sharp rise in BJP’s fortunes as the principal alternative to the Congress party. Asked if Lok Sabha elections were held today which party they would like to see heading the government at the Centre, as many as 63% picked the BJP as against only 25% who chose Congress. This is a huge increase for the BJP over a month ago when 47% had picked the party as against 26% the Congress. A sharp polarization of voters seems to be occurring in favour of the BJP, since most of the uncommitted voters (18% in September coming down to 6% in October) are seeing it as the most credible alternative to the Congress despite all its internal problems.
The results of the recent by-elections seem to be in line with this finding. The Congress has drawn a blank in all the four by-polls, though the party is in power in three of the four states. In the most closely-watched poll in Hisar, the Congress candidate faced the humiliation of losing his deposit.
Significantly, recently forged alliances by the BJP, with the Haryana Janhit Party in Haryana, and with the RPI (Athawale) in Maharashtra, seem to have come good and this bodes well for the party in the elections to come.
As far as the prime ministerial sweepstakes is concerned, the LensOnNews poll had repeated the questions on the ‘Preferred Prime Minister’ asked earlier in August and September – matching up Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi one-for-one against each other.
The results are not flattering to Manmohan Singh, who scores a rating of only 33% against 46% for the Congress party’s PM-in waiting Rahul Gandhi.
In contrast, Narendra Modi’s standing has been on a steady rise. He scores 65% when matched up against Manmohan who is at 26% relative to Modi; this is a rise from 52% to 32% two months ago. Modi scores even higher relative to Rahul Gandhi: 69% to 22% now, as against 51% to 35% in August.
Spotlight on the BJP
With the Congress government weakening by the day and the possibility of mid-term polls on the horizon, the spotlight is increasingly turning on the question of who will lead the BJP into the next polls as its prime ministerial candidate. Narendra Modi with his Sadhbavana Mission fasting, and L.K. Advani with his Jana Chetna Yatra, both seem to have thrown their hats into the ring though not explicitly announcing their candidature.
When queried by LensOnNews as to who among the BJP leaders they consider the best PM candidate, 50% of all the respondents irrespective of their political affiliation picked Narendra Modi, 16% L.K. Advani, 13% Sushma Swaraj, and 5% Arun Jaitley. However, among voters who favour a BJP government at the Centre, Narendra Modi scored 60%, Advani and Sushma Swaraj were 13% each and Arun Jaitley 2%; the balance 12% preferred others or had no preference.
The findings of this section validate our decision at LensOnNews to focus on Narendra Modi as the key leader in the BJP for prime ministerial stakes in our monthly tracking polls.
This month’s LensOnNews tracking poll was carried out among a representative cross-sectional sample of 1641 voters in ten major cities (including four metros) between October 8 and 13. The findings are subject to a margin of error of 4%.
The coming months will witness fast-moving political developments, with the 2G scam winding its way through the judicial process, the Lokpal Bill coming up in the Winter session of Parliament, the count-down to the high-stakes UP assembly elections proceeding inexorably, etc. LensOnNews will be tracking the developments and the public sentiment closely. Watch this space.