Cow vigilantism, Doklam, Dalit agitation. Nothing seems to matter. Prime minister Narendra Modi’s popularity remains Teflon-coated.
More than three years since he stormed to power, nearly nine in 10 Indians hold a favourable opinion of him, a new survey by Washington-based think-tank Pew Research Centre shows. That’s as high as the 2015 numbers.
“Roughly seven in 10 say they have a very favourable view of the prime minister, again similar to public views in 2015,” noted the survey, which polled 2,464 respondents in India between February and March 2017.
There’s more good news for Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party which seeks to hold on to power in his home state of Gujarat: The prime minister remains the tallest among Indian politicians. His ratings are 31 percentage points more than those of Sonia Gandhi, leader of the rival Congress party, and 30 more than Congress scion Rahul Gandhi’s.
“The public’s positive assessment of Modi is buoyed by growing contentment with the Indian economy: More than eight in 10 say economic conditions are good, up 19 percentage points since immediately before the 2014 election. And the share of adults who say the economy is very good (30%) has tripled in the past three years,” the Pew Report said.
That said, Modi’s lowest ratings are for his handling of communal relations (50%) and inability to curb air pollution (48%)—both issues that the opposition has latched on to, though the former has got much more attention.
However, a large number of Indians (70% and above) approve of the 67-year-old’s handling of unemployment, terrorism, corruption, and poverty. “Approval in these four areas is up 10 points or more since 2016,” the report said. “Modi is very popular among men and women and among adults in both rural and urban areas.”
Meanwhile, a year since Donald Trump won the US presidential race, there has been a decline in how Indians view Modi’s handling of US affairs. So far, he and Trump haven’t been able to replicate the bromance the Indian leader shared with former president Barack Obama.
“A majority (55%) approves of the prime minister’s handling of relations with the United States and 36% hold no opinion on the matter. But this approval is down since 2015, when 66% said he was doing a good job in his dealings with Washington,” the report said.