Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s favourability rating with the Indian public is 81%, says the latest Pew Research Center survey on the country’s attitudes.
Though the rating is six percentage points less than last year, the survey concludes that “Modi continues to ride a wave of public good feeling about the way things are going in India”.
Questions remain about India’s economic growth rate, but 80% of Indians said the “current state of the economy is good” – up six points from last year and 16% more than when Modi was elected in 2014.
A similar trend was evident in responses to questions about the direction of the country. Sixty-five per cent said they were satisfied, up 9 points from last year and more than double what was felt in 2013.
The annual India poll by the Washington-based research centre was based on interviews of nearly 2,500 Indians across 16 states and in eight languages, which were conducted between April 7 and May 24.
Modi’s approval is strikingly high with 57% of Indians expressing a “very favourable” opinion and 24% giving a “moderately favourable” view. While his overall approval rises to 94% among BJP supporters, even 61% of Congress supporters gave him a thumbs-up. A plurality of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supporters (47%) also took a positive view.
The rising tide of public confidence, however, has lifted other political boats. Both Sonia and Rahul Gandhi have seen their ratings rise to 65 and 63%, respectively, up from 49 and 50% in 2013. But AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal has seen his numbers drop 10 percentage points from last year to 50%.
In what may be an indicator of next year’s state election results, 71% of North Indians expressed satisfaction at the direction of the country – the highest figures across the country. Though only 42% of North Indians say the economy is doing well, that is still the second-highest among the regions.
Modi’s popularity, noted the report, cuts “across demographic groups – to both men and women, and among all age groups, educational backgrounds and income levels”.
Men were more likely to like Modi than women by a small margin: 85% to 77%. The younger the Indian, the more likely he is to be a Modi supporter.
Nine out of 10 Indians with some college education approved of Modi, among those with less than a secondary school education the figure fell to 79%. Rural and urban support for Modi was almost identical.
The report noted an unsurprising division of opinion between BJP and Congress supporters on Modi. When asked, for example, whether “Modi cares about people like me”, there was a 31-point gap between the partisan respondents.
Asked to judge the NDA government’s ability to tackle specific policy problems, Modi did the best in “helping the poor” and “unemployment” with a 62% positive approval rating. He fared the worst in communal relations and air pollution, with approval for both at 53%.
Indian respondents listed crime, jobs and corrupt officials as the country’s primary problems by an overwhelming 95%. Communal relations received the lowest sense of concern out of six policy areas – 76%.
Modi’s party, the BJP, has not fared as well as its leader though it remains well ahead of the Congress. While the Congress has seen its popularity rise six points to 67% from last year, the BJP’s has fallen by seven points to a still commanding 80%.
BJP support has fallen the most in rural areas, down 16 points from last year, and its support is weakest in western states such as Gujarat and Maharashtra. Congress approval is strongest in the South.