WHO IS BEST SUITED TO BE THE NEXT PRIME MIN­IS­TER OF IN­DIA?

India Today - - LEAD ESSAY -

LAST AU­GUST, when Modi had bounced back in the reck­on­ing, the rea­sons were clear: he had for­mu­lated a dhoti-kurta bud­get that was pro-poor and pro-farmer even while be­ing sup­port­ive of busi­ness—a fine bal­anc­ing act. He had ef­fected a reshuf­fle of his team which sent a sig­nal that he was un­afraid to crack the whip. He had also suc­cess­fully pi­loted the Goods and Ser­vices Tax (GST) bill through both houses of Par­lia­ment show­ing a new face of ac­com­mo­da­tion to the Op­po­si­tion.

Since the Au­gust poll, Modi has made two ma­jor moves: one on the for­eign pol­icy front when in the last week of Septem­ber he or­dered sur­gi­cal strikes right thing and work­ing out the ra­tio­nale for a de­ci­sion.

How­ever, once Modi is con­vinced, he is de­ci­sive and ex­hibits courage, tough­ness and re­silience to im­ple­ment his ideas. His sense of tim­ing has so far been im­pec­ca­ble. For Modi, there are no half mea­sures. Or full stops. Another piece of ad­vice: Never take him lightly—he means what he says.

The lat­est in­dia to­day-Karvy In­sights Mood of the Na­tion (MOTN) poll vin­di­cates this as­sess­ment of the prime min­is­ter. If in the Au­gust 2016 MOTN, Modi’s for­tunes showed a mild up­swing after the NDA’s seat fore­casts had fallen pre­cip­i­tously in two con­sec­u­tive MOTN polls, the Jan­uary 2017 sur­vey re­sults bring glad tid­ings for the prime min­is­ter. It is the first ma­jor opin­ion poll since de­mon­eti­sa­tion, and vot­ers have given Modi an un­am­bigu­ous thumbs up. Were an elec­tion held to­day, the NDA would get 360 seats—a sub­stan­tial gain of 56 seats over the sur­vey done in Au­gust. What is more, the BJP tally alone would bring in 305 seats, giv­ing it a com­fort­able ma­jor­ity in the Lok Sabha and making it less de­pen­dent on its al­lies (see ac­com­pa­ny­ing charts).

Modi’s pop­u­lar­ity rat­ings have also shown a re­mark­able surge: 65 per cent see him as best suited to be prime min­is­ter, up by 15 per­cent­age points since Au­gust and way ahead of his near­est ri­val Rahul Gandhi who polled just 10 per cent of the votes. And the per­cent­age of peo­ple who rated his per­for­mance as good to out­stand­ing rose to 69 as com­pared to 53 per cent six months ago. Such is the rise that Modi for the first time since he as­sumed of­fice in 2014 is rated as the best prime min­is­ter the coun­try has had, scor­ing an even higher per­cent­age of votes in his favour than two of the most pop­u­lar for­mer prime min­is­ters, Indira Gandhi and Atal Be­hari Va­j­payee.

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