BJP has the advantage, but regional parties hold the key
With most respondents pitching for Narendra Modi as the next prime minister, the BJP may have an advantage over the Congress, but for a surge in its Lok Sabha poll tally, it will need well knitted alliances in the east, south and even in the north.
As the Hindustan Times survey shows, Modi gets the highest votes - 52% -- from respondents in the western region, and, as usual, polarises opinion with only 27% in the east giving him a thumbs-up.
The reason for the overwhelming support for Modi in the west is not difficult to decipher, considering that his government's performance in Gujarat has made a good impression among the people in the region.But that also goes to show that the BJP will have to do all it can to keep the NDA alliance intact in Bihar where its present ally, the Janata Dal(United), is against Modi's projection and Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress won't do business with the NDA because of Gujarat strongman.
"Modi lacks the appeal that a leader needs to become the prime minister. While his achievements in Gujarat are note worthy, he hasn't yet fully outgrown his past reputation," said Saoud Sheikh, 35, associate vice president at a bank in Gandhinagar.
While the BJP has come out on top in the overall results, a region-wise scrutiny throws up some interesting results. The recent Karnataka election results point to the saffron party's difficulties in the south. Something the survey confirms. It is the preferred party in the north and west, but in the south and east the Congress tops the chart. While for the rest of the country, the biggest reason for not voting for the Congress is high inflation, in the south, corruption comes on top. Yet, more people (41%) feel the Congress is still the best bet for solving the price rise problem than the BJP (39%), against the trend in other regions.
In the south, AIADMK's Jayalalithaa will be only a post-poll partner if the BJP gets its numbers in the Lok Sabha elections. That goes for the Telugu Desam Party in Andhra Pradesh too. But these parties are also backers of a third front idea if they can be in the driver's seat.
However, the survey findings do not offer much hope for a coalition of third front parties. Barring the north, an overwhelming majority of respondents across the country were against a third front government. But in the case a third front gets to form the government, respondents said, Nitish Kumar is seen as the best candidate for the PM's job.
(With inputs from Khawla Zainab and Paramita Ghosh)
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