A January poll of urban voters showed the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance that rules in New Delhi is struggling against the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance and would lose if these voters determined an election at this point.
A survey of urban voters was conducted in 28 cities between January 10 and January 17 and commissioned by TV news channel ABP News. Some 39 per cent of those surveyed favored the NDA while 22 per cent favored UPA. In the 2009 general election, the UPA gained 37 per cent of the total vote compared with about 25 per cent for the NDA. The survey didn’t account for the balance but regional parties are expected to gain substantially in the next election. Some 36 per cent of the respondents in the survey said they intended to vote for the BJP, while 18 per cent favored Congress. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, a leader of the BJP and expected prime ministerial candidate, was supported as prime minister by 48 per cent of voters polled. Mr. Gandhi came a distant second with 16 per cent. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was the choice of only 7 per cent of the voters surveyed. The survey had a sample size of 8,842 eligible voters.
Cities in north India where the survey was conducted included Delhi, Jaipur, Lucknow, Agra, and Chandigarh, while in the south they included Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, and Kochi. Kolkata, Jamshedpur, and Guwahati were among the eastern cities covered, while Indore, Mumbai, Bhopal, Ahmedabad, and Aurangabad were among those surveyed in the west.
Apart from the Congress, major parties in the UPA are the Nationalist Congress Party, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the National Conference. The NDA comprises chiefly of the BJP, Janata Dal (United), Shiv Sena and Akali Dal.
Narendra Kumar, head of the political science department at Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University in Lucknow, said the survey results showed how voters were disillusioned by Congress, which has been tarnished by a series of corruption scandals and criticised for its lack of responsiveness to women’s safety issues in the wake of a gangrape on a moving bus in New Delhi December 16. He noted, however, that the survey didn’t represent the rural areas or even smaller towns, which make up over 80 per cent of the electorate. “Typically, the rural areas are more pro-Congress than the urban centers which have generally gone for the BJP,” he added.
In a bid to bolster its image, the party named Rahul Gandhi as the second in command recently, just below his mother and Party President, Sonia Gandhi. Mr. Gandhi’s father, Rajiv Gandhi, in addition to his grandmother, Indira Gandhi, and great-grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru, all served as Prime Ministers. But Mr. Kumar played down the effect of Mr. Gandhi’s elevation and the change in leadership at the BJP. “At this point, I don’t see Rahul and Rajnath’s appointments having a major impact in the voters’ preferences,” said Mr. Kumar.
Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, spokesman for the BJP, claimed the party itself could garner more than 200 seats in Parliament if polls were held today, with the NDA in total crossing 300. A coalition needs 272 seats in the 543-seat lower house to form a Government. Congress party spokesman Rashid Alvi dismissed the survey’s findings: “We don’t trust it at all as it’s a very small sample size if a country which has more than 720 million voters”. It is worth noting that the questions were asked before Mr. Gandhi’s promotion and emergence as the clear front-runner as prime ministerial candidate for the general elections which must be held before May 2014. And before Nitin Gadkari was unceremoniously dumped as BJP leader andreplaced by Rajnath Singh. The polling also didn’t tap rural voters, who make up the majority of the overall electorate. Still, with all these caveats, it is worth noting how far Congress has to climb to win urban voters, according to the results.
Source : India Real Time