PM Modi Con­tin­ues to Ride High in Towns

But some of his schemes do not find trac­tion

The Economic Times - - The Edit Page -

Ex­ports, stock mar­ket in­dices and cor­po­rate re­turns might be down and banks bat­tered by bad debt, but the pop­u­lar­ity of Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi re­mains undi­min­ished: this is the find­ing of a sur­vey of over 2,100 peo­ple from In­dia’s seven largest cities. The Eco­nomic Times Sur­vey con­ducted by TNS cov­ered peo­ple in the age group 24-50 with an­nual earn­ings be­tween 3 lakh and 20 lakh, with a bias to­wards those aged 24-30 and earn­ing up to 5 lakh. The Congress is blamed for stalling Par­lia­ment and Rahul Gandhi’s pop­u­lar­ity is less than half Modi’s, al­though the Congress leader’s dis­ap­proval de­creases as the in­come of the re­spon­dent rises.

In­dia’s ur­ban mid­dle class is gen­er­ally sat­is­fied with the per­for­mance of the gov­ern­ment, is hope­ful about the fu­ture and thinks enough jobs are be­ing gen­er­ated. The Union Bud­get re­ceives a more mixed re­view. Pros­per­ous forty-some­things tend to think the Bud­get would hurt their earn­ings, but the vast ma­jor­ity are ei­ther happy with the Bud­get or neu­tral about it. Finance min­is­ter Arun Jait­ley also re­ceives a favourable rat­ing, al­though lower than the PM’s. In the game of per­cep­tion man­age­ment, the gov­ern­ment has a clear up­per hand. In the con­tro­versy over na­tion­al­ism, ur­ban mid­dle class opinion is firmly with the BJP. This would not be news to the Congress, which de­cided to duck the na­tion­al­ism de­bate in Ma­ha­rash­tra, not by re­fus­ing to let the BJP choose the agenda but by go­ing along with it on the per­verse con­fla­tion of pa­tri­o­tism with the iconog­ra­phy of the na­tion as mother god­dess.

It might come as a mild dis­ap­point­ment to the rul­ing dis­pen­sa­tion, how­ever, that schemes such as Dig­i­tal In­dia and Smart Cities are not the re­sound­ing suc­cesses they were sup­posed to be. It is only in Delhi that Dig­i­tal In­dia man­ages to find trac­tion. How­ever, the Swachh Bharat scheme is im­mensely pop­u­lar. On the whole, the abil­ity to iden­tify what moves peo­ple and raise as­pi­ra­tions seems to have dom­i­nated, tan­gi­ble achieve­ments when it comes to mid­dle-class as­sess­ment. Ac­tual de­liv­ery will mat­ter in the days to come.

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