NEW DELHI – Over three years into office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity is still at par with what it was in 2015, and 70 per cent Indians are “satisfied” with the way things are going in the country, a Pew survey of 2,464 respondents shows.
Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday drew media’s attention towards the “detailed” survey by the US-based think tank which, Prasad emphasised, was “well reputed and credible”.
According to the survey, conducted among 2,464 respondents in India from February 21 to March 10 this year, nearly 90 per cent Indians hold a favorable opinion of Modi, comparable to their view of him in 2015, after a year in office.
Roughly 70 per cent say they have a very favorable view of the Prime Minister. It says that since 2015, Modi’s popularity is relatively unchanged in the north, has risen in the west and the south and is down slightly in the east.
It points out that Modi’s favorable rating is 31 percentage points higher than that of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, and 30 points higher than that of Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi.
Overall, 70 per cent Indians are “satisfied” with the way things are going in the country. This positive assessment of India’s direction has nearly doubled since 2014, it says.
India has a population of around 1.30 billion, of which, 814.5 million people were eligible to vote, that is, those who are above 18 years of age as per the Election Commission of India data.
The Pew survey did not include the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Kerala and the entire northeast.
Also, 70 per cent Indians approve of how he has helped the poor and handled unemployment, terrorism and corruption. Approval in these four areas is up 10 points or more since 2016, the survey finds.
“BJP supporters have a more positive opinion on the economy than Congress supporters. But both groups are similarly satisfied with the direction of the country, despite a partisan gap of 18 points in 2016,” the survey says.
As far as handling of various burning issues by Modi, only 50 per cent approve of the way he has handled communal relations, just 48 per cent approve handling of air pollution, 57 approve of handling of rising prices and 60 per cent approve Modi’s handling of the Kashmir issue.
“Modi’s lowest ratings are for his handling of communal relations (50 per rcent) — the long fractious tensions between Muslims and Hindus and India’s various castes — and for his efforts to curb air pollution (48 per cent). People living in northern India…are particularly critical of how he has dealt with communal relations. And rural Indians are less supportive than those in urban areas of his handling of both communal relations and air pollution,” the survey says.
According to the survey findings, Modi is quite popular among youngsters, that is aged between 18-29 years. Around 72 per cent of this age group has “very favorable” view of Modi while only 5 per cent hold “very unfavorable” view of him.
The overall “very favorable” views are 69 per cent while “very unfavorable” are just 6 per cent.
Interestingly, a majority (55 per cent) of Indians also back a governing system in which a strong leader can make decisions without interference from Parliament or the courts, while 53 per cent support military rule, the survey finds.
“Support for autocratic rule is higher in India than in any other nation surveyed,” it notes.
“BJP supporters and those who live in urban areas are significantly more likely than Congress party backers and those in rural regions to support rule by a strong leader, by the military and by experts,” it further says.
On demonetization, it finds that despite Prime Minister Modi’s decision last November to abolish high-value bank notes, less than half of the Indian population sees the lack of availability of cash to be a major problem.