Modi Still Topper Among the Indian Middle Class
The urban salaried between the ages of 24 and 50 in India’s seven biggest cities still believe in Modi, the BJP government and their dreams of achhe din
Prime Minister Narendra Modi still holds sway over members of his core constituency — the urban salaried, especially those living in India’s seven biggest cities. The government’s overall approval ratings are still running high almost two years after the Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept to power at the head of a robust majority, according to the findings of an ET-TNS survey. That’s despite getting caught up in various controversies and the failure to make progress on key elements of its reform agenda. The government has an overall approval rating of 86% on economic performance, while 62% say that it has delivered on job creation and 58% expect the future to be better. In other words, they still
that ‘achhe din aaney wala hain’. Perhaps the finding that reveals the most about those surveyed is their response to questions about the controversy over nationalism and sedition as exemplified by the Jawaharlal Nehru University protests. Half of them (46%) believe that the controversy is the Congress’ fault and more of them (52%) hold the view that the government has taken the right action in the matter.
It’s important to note that the findings don’t reflect sentiment across the country or among different population segments, particularly during the current election season. It should be read for what it is — a sense of the government’s popularity across a segment that’s seen as being strong supporters of Modi and the BJP. To that end, our surveyors fanned out across Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad, covering a sample size of more than 2,000 people between the ages of 24 and 50 with an annual family income between .₹ 3 lakh and .₹ 20 lakh. About a fifth of those surveyed were women..`
One key finding: Modi is vastly more popular than Congress VicePresident Rahul Gandhi. On a scale of one to 10, Modi gets a score of 7.68 against a lowly 3.61 for Gandhi. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley does better than him at 5.86. As much as 41% of those surveyed gave the PM a rating of 9 or 10.
With a score of 7.68 out of 10, Modi is much more popular than Congress V-P Rahul Gandhi who got a lowly 3.61
Among the seven cities, there is a split. Ahmedabad is most wholehearted in support of the government led by Modi, the former Gujarat chief minister for whom the state was a launch pad onto the national stage. Delhi and Bengaluru are also in favour of him, while Mumbai is more balanced in its view — some issues could have been handled better, said people there.
Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata swing the other way and are negative on the government. Point to note: Assembly elections have begun in West Bengal while Tamil Nadu goes to the polls on May16.
The Congress also gets most of the blame (66%) for the logjam in Parliament. A majority (61%) believe the government’s development agenda has been thwarted by the rows in the House.
As for the Budget, opinion is divided almost evenly on whether it’s a friendly one. More than half believe that the Budget will adversely impact household expenditure, while close to two in five believe it will have no impact on savings. It should be noted that the survey was conducted after the February 29 Budget but before the government clarified its position on the Employees’ Provident Fund, rolling back plans to tax part of the amount at withdrawal. When it comes to age groups, the strongest support for the government comes from the 24-30 segment. Not only are they positive about past economic perfor- mance, they are also optimistic about the future. It should be noted that 47% of those surveyed come from this age group.
In the 41-50 age group (17% of those surveyed), opinion is more nuanced. Those who profess themselves to be from SEC B2 households, generally regarded as lower middle class, are not as fervent in their support as their younger compatriots. They are also less enthusiastic about the Budget, which they believe raises expenditure and lowers returns on savings, although the timing of the survey may have had an impact on the answers as pointed out above. The government seems to have been successful in getting the word out on schemes such as the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, which gets a positive rating of 76%, followed by Make in India at 65%. The Digital India and Smart City initiatives (both at 55%) don’t seem to have caught on as much. Among household and income segments, those in the upper tier are satisfied with the government and blame the Congress for reforms getting stuck. Still, the Budget doesn’t get their full support and are also less positive on the government’s various initiatives.
Those in the middle in terms of income are both satisfied and optimistic. But although they blame Congress for various issues, many feel the government needs to return the focus to development.