Despite Covid, Modi remains most popular leader in the country
Two recent surveys, one by a US data intelligence firm and another commissioned by a major Indian media house, show the Indian Prime Minister remains by far the most popular leader in the country; and despite the ravages wrought by the second wave of Covid, a majority of people approve of the way he has handled the crisis.
The Opposition parties and habitual critics of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are not going to like this: This week, he emerged as the global leader with the highest domestic approval rating in the “Global Leader Approval Rating Tracker” survey conducted by US data intelligence firm Morning Consult, which tracks approval ratings of world leaders from 13 countries – Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States – on a weekly basis.
Higher approval ratings than Biden, BoJo and Macron
The last survey, conducted on June 17, showed 66 per cent of Indians approved of Modi, while 28 per cent disapproved of him. The approval rating, which showed that two out of three Indians continue to support Modi, was down from 75 per cent approval in the previous survey. The disapproval rating of 28 per cent, however, was an improvement over the 32 per cent figure the survey returned in the previous round.
Modi’s approval rating was far superior to peers such as Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (54 per cent), German Chancellor Angela Merkel (53 per cent), US President Joe Biden (53 per cent), Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (48 per cent), UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson (44 per cent), French President Emmanuel Macron (35 per cent) and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (29 per cent).
Modi’s approval is down from its peak of 84 per cent, as per the survey results on May 2 and 3, 2020, a little more than a month after he had declared the world’s most stringent lockdown in India.
Findings reliable despite small sample size
A caveat will be in order. The survey has a sample size of only 2,126 adults, which is small for a country of 1.3 billion. Then, the survey was conducted online, which means it is likely to represent the views of only India’s educated, Net-surfing population.
Despite these infirmities, the survey can be accepted as reflecting public opinion in India because its outcome is corroborated by more representative, independent opinion polls conducted across India in recent weeks.
A survey conducted by the respected Indian agency C-Voter for media house ABP with a sample size of 56,685 and covering all 542 Lok Sabha constituencies gave the Prime Minister an approval similar to the “Global Leader Approval Rating Tracker” survey.
Disproving speculation that the Covid death toll of 388,000 and the accompanying economic slowdown had dented people’s faith in Modi, the ABP-C-Voter survey, released last month (May 28) showed 64 per cent of Indians approved of the Modi government’s handling of the Covid crisis. In contrast, only 20 per cent said Congress leader Rahul Gandhi could have handled it better.
Significantly, only 17 per cent of Indians, or one in six people, expressed disappointment over the Modi government’s handling of the Covid situation.
Survey nails Opposition lies
In a huge display of faith in Modi, and giving a lie to the efforts of some parties and their supporters in civil society to paint the Prime Minister as insensitive and out of touch with ground realities, as many as 54 per cent of urban respondents and 45 per cent rural Indians supported his decision to send vaccines abroad when the first wave was waning. The percentage of people in urban and rural India who disapproved of the decision was 29 per cent and 37 per cent, respectively.
Then, in another blow to the narrative that people are disappointed with the government, 46 per cent said the Modi government’s way of getting the Covid-19 vaccines produced and distributed is fine. About 42 per cent were dissatisfied with the government on this count.
Thus, it would seem from these two and some other recent surveys that Modi’s love affair with the Indian people is jogging along and his honeymoon with the electorate is continuing into the eighth year of his term as Prime Minister.