There’s bad news for Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar : a media organisation. Lens-on-News, conducted a survey in nine Assembly constituencies of the state from 21 to 27 June 2012 and the survey threatens to change the fortunes of the two alliance partners – the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Janata Dal United (JD(U)) in Bihar.
In the survey, a straight question was posed: ‘If Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is made the Prime Ministerial candidate of the BJP and the party goes out of the alliance with the JD(U), which party will you vote for?’ As compared to just 16 per cent votes in favour of the JD(U), a whopping 38 per cent people said they would vote for the BJP. Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress ran neck to neck with 11 per cent wanting to vote for the Congress and 12 per cent for the RJD. It is clear that even if preference for the RJD and the JD(U) is combined, the BJP surges ahead. Also, what becomes clear is the level of acceptance of Narendra Modi.
This survey becomes contextual as the BJP and the JD(U) have been squabbling over Narendra Modi to the extent that the alliance has come close to being dissolved on more than one occasion. Reeling for long under the impression that the BJP cannot win without an alliance with the JD(U), the party cadre and leaders both have been relieved by the survey. An infusion of a new confidence due to the findings of the survey is more than evident in the changing tenor of statements by leaders like Sushil Modi (the Deputy Chief Minister) and C.P. Thakur (President of the state BJP unit).
Vikram Kunwar, a BJP MLA (Member of Legislative Assembly), says that this is due to the charisma of Narendra Modi. Not just Bihar but the whole nation is waiting for Narendra Modi to take over the reins. The survey has only catapulted this widely shared sentiment in the public discourse. The state BJP leaders are projecting the survey as a vindication of their long held belief.
Narendra Modi belongs to a backward caste and has every right to become the Prime Minister of the country, is how the state BJP leadership is selling the idea of Narendra Modi being their candidate for the top job. They believe that the people of Bihar are looking not at the BJP-JD(U) alliance but at Narendra Modi to lead the country on the path of development. The BJP leaders maintain that regional parties have limitations, an innuendo at the JD(U), and in this case the BJP and Narendra Modi are the only viable choices in front of the electorate.
A survey conducted by a media organisation, Lens-on-News, in nine Assembly constituencies in Bihar shows that 38 per cent people want Narendra Modi as the next Prime Minister. The people rejected Rahul Gandhi as well.
The second question that the survey put up to the people was, ‘Who is the most worthy candidate for the post of Prime Minister?’ Even here Narendra Modi trumped others by a huge margin. Thirty six per cent of the people voted for him while Rahul Gandhi came a distant second with a meager 15 per cent votes. Nitish came third with just 12 per cent people preferring him and L.K. Advani pathetically stood last with 6 per cent votes.
What would have left Nitish shell shocked was that 61 per cent people of the surveyed areas disagreed with Nitish’s opinion of Narendra Modi.
By now corruption has become one of the most important issues with the people of Bihar. It is generally believed that nothing in the state machinery can be moved without bribes. The survey showed that 35 per cent of the people surveyed feel that the Nitish government has failed to curb corruption in the state. Putting Nitish Raj in the dock, 49 per cent people feel that the ruling alliance gave better governance in its first innings than the second. The survey has given Nitish detractors a new lease of life. Samrat Chaudhary, an RJD MLA, said that the survey has come up with nothing new as the RJD has long been accusing the present government of crass corruption: a regime where no file moves from one to the other table without greasing somebody’s hands.
The JD(U) leadership is busy finding ways to undermine these findings and in this vein the spokesperson of JD(U), Neeraj Kumar, said that the survey should not be taken seriously as it is motivated and the veracity of the findings is doubtful. Actually, G.V.L. Narsimha Rao of Lens-on-News is a former editor of The Times of India and is currently associated with the Raman Singh Goverment in Chhattisgarh. Further, his earlier forecasts based on surveys for the Municipal Elections in Delhi and Assembly Elections in Uttar Pradesh proved to be correct.