In 2009, voters in rural India had voted for the Congress. In the next elections, they say they will vote for the BJP. (HT Photo)
A surprising 18% jump in its seat tally for urban India helped the UPA retain power in the last national election, but the Congress seem to have frittered away those gains, failing to curb price rise, come clean on corruption charges and deliver on governance.
Voters are disenchanted, across the urban and rural landscape, and across the economic classes. In cities and towns, the disillusionment is more pronounced among the middle class than those in lower rungs. In rural areas, the mood and disenchantment with the ruling coalition remain largely unchanged through economic ranks, according the Hindustan Times- GfK Mode survey.
The only saving grace for the Congress could be the urban poor, who still prefer it over BJP and are ready to bet on Rahul Gandhi. The survey showed that 40-41% respondents among poorest in urban areas would have voted for the Congress as compared to 36-38% for the BJP. And 27 % of urban poor wanted Rahul Gandhi to be the prime minister, highest support for him among any socio-economic category in urban and rural areas.
But that may not be enough for the party to repeat its showing in the 2009 elections, when the Congress had won 115 of the 201 Lok Sabha seats in urban areas
Rural voters, who constitute nearly 60% of the country's total electorate, are no longer immune to issues of corruption. That, along with price rise, are the biggest failing of the ruling coalition, say respondents. 36% of rural poor cited price rise as the reason for voting against the Congress. The big gainer has been the BJP, a party that has long been the favourite among urban rich and the middle-class. The survey has shown a remarkable gain for the predominantly urban-based BJP in the hinterland, which has traditionally been the Congress party's bastion. 48% of rich in urban and 46% rich in rural areas would vote for the BJP if elections were held now.
The Congress may have anointed Rahul Gandhi the official number two in the party, but going by the survey, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi has taken a decisive lead over him in both urban and rural areas and across income groups. Though Modi's message has travelled much faster in urban India, the hinterland is slowly catching up. A high decibel television and social media campaign has apparently made him the top choice among educated and rich in both urban (43%) and rural (40%) India when compared with poor (35%) in cities and villages.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who of late has been warming up to the Congress, has the chance of becoming the Prime Minister only if the Third Front comes to power.
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