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Opinion poll - Cong should thank BJP


India is far from shining under the UPA rule but the Opposition has proved worthless
June 20, 2010 17:22
Tags : Opinion poll |NREGA |NDA leader L.K. Advani | UPA |

 Opinion poll - Cong should thank BJPYashwant Deshmukh 

Psephologist and promoter, CVOTER

You don’t really need to go through the “report card” presented by Dr Manmohan Singh to the “people” of the country to judge UPA II’s performance in its first year to know the state of the nation. While the Prime Minister may have lauded the performance of his government at least on the economic front and expressed “cautious optimism” about the future, you have to be living on another planet to believe that all is hunky dory. In the past year, price rise and the threat of terror attacks have wreaked havoc on ordinary Indians. And these are just two of the major concerns which find resonance in urban and rural pockets alike. Even in the fields of health and education, not to mention infrastructure where the government lists its most notable achievements, there has been little progress on the ground.

While the report deals with several of the UPA’s pet schemes, including NREGA, and lists the government’s achievements and plans in human development, social inclusion, rural renewal, urban transformation, economic growth, environment, science and technology and disaster management etc., what is the state of the nation? And are Indians truly pleased with the government’s performance? These are two questions that need closer scrutiny.

A survey done by CVOTER across 180 Lok Sabha segments in April-May sought answers from 8,721 respondents selected randomly. When asked to rate the government’s performance on a scale of 0-10, the mean score that the Centre bagged was an honourable 6.58. UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi got rated only slightly lower at a mean score of 6.56 and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh bagged 6.39. These better-than-average scores may signal people’s acknowledgement of the UPA government’s performance.

However, if you compare these scores with those received by the Opposition, the picture becomes clearer. While Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj bags an average mean score of 5.13, NDA leader L.K. Advani comes across as the significant loser in the satisfaction index; he scores a below-average 4.73. Clearly, there is acute public dissatisfaction with the performance of the Opposition whose role is of paramount importance in any democracy. And even as the PM may be busy patting himself and his team on the back, it may be argued that the people’s support for his government comes not so much from its performance but from a non-functioning Opposition. In short, there’s no viable alternative in sight.

The nation’s perception of its state and where it is headed couldn’t be clearer. When asked what they thought of their living standards in the last one year, 53 per cent from the lower income group responded that it had either remained unchanged or deteriorated. 

As many as 49 per cent in the middle income group reported the same while 41 per cent in the higher income group agreed with that–as compared to 56 per cent who thought that it had improved in the same segment. These findings clearly suggest that despite the UPA’s poll plank of social inclusiveness and rural development, the poorest in the country have borne the brunt of rising prices and unemployment and underdevelopment. The rich, on the other hand, seem to have benefitted from the government’s economic policies.

If Bharat was not shinning in the NDA regime, neither does it seem to be under the present government. 

Rising prices, unemployment and terror attacks are the most important issues facing the nation today, reiterated by the findings of our survey, with 16, 18 and 14 per cent of people respectively zeroing in on these when asked to name the most significant problem in India today. These are emotive issues and significantly, 30 per cent of the people surveyed blamed the Central government squarely for the price rise. 

But despite being blamed for the situation, why did Indian voters bring the Congress back to power? The numbers are once again illuminating. Apart from those who felt that elections are not won on issues but through money and muscle power (9 per cent), 24 per cent attributed the Congress’ success to the Opposition, saying that it was caught up in internal wranglings and did not take up this issue adequately as also to the fact that they did not “trust” the Opposition. Another 12 per cent said that the Congress’ success was in hiding its failures, pointing to the public’s disenchantment. 

The opposition’s inadequacy was brought home when more than one third (37 per cent) people said that the major opposition party, the BJP, had failed to perform its duty of bringing the voice of the people to Parliament. 

It’s obviously time for the Opposition to wake up from its fitful slumber and smell the coffee.

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017