New Delhi, January 16
Seven out of the 10 most popular Chief Ministers are from the Opposition parties while seven out of the 10 worst performing Chief Ministers are from the BJP/NDA camp, as per the IANS C-Voter State of the Nation 2021 survey.
As per the survey, BJP Chief Ministers are the least popular currently. In all BJP/NDA ruled states, the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is several notches higher than the popularity of the BJP Chief Ministers.
Non-Congress Chief Ministers are at times relatively at par or slightly more popular than Modi within their respective states. However, even the worst performing BJP/NDA Chief Ministers are more popular than Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in their respective states.
Rahul Gandhi’s leadership seems to be more of a liability rather than an asset for the Congress. All Congress CM faces are way more popular than their central leadership. The Congress is unable to emerge as the fulcrum of the Opposition.
Among the poll-bound states, the Chief Ministers of Kerala, West Bengal and Assam have scored way better than the national average, thus indicating a pro-incumbency sentiment in these states as far as Chief Minister candidates are concerned. The Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry are among the bottom lot as far as satisfaction ratings are concerned, indicating anti-incumbency sentiments brewing up in these states, the survey found.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is the most popular chief minister in the country, followed closely by Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi and YS Jaganmohan Reddy in Andhra Pradesh.
On the other end of the spectrum is Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, arguably the least popular Chief Minister in India followed closely by Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh with the lowest satisfaction ratings in their respective states.
Out of those surveyed, 11 Chief Ministers scored higher than the all-India average (42.8) nett approval ratings. Odisha, Delhi and Andhra Pradesh have the most popular leaders while 11 Chief Ministers score below the national average.
By this metric, Punjab, Haryana and Uttarakhand have the three least popular Chief Ministers in the country. Three large states governed by the BJP or its allies score below the national average — Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Bihar.
The Chief Ministers of Maharashtra and West Bengal are doing better than the national average. It would be an overreach to read too much into the CM ratings as leaders often lag the unpopularity of their governments or legislators. Nevertheless, it is an important framework to view the state of politics in the country.
Among the smaller and middle sized states, Haryana, Kerala and Punjab are lacklustres for PM Modi. Punjab in particular is the only state in the country to return a negative nett approval for Modi. Perhaps a consequence of the ongoing farmers’ protests.
The Chief Ministers of Kerala, Maharashtra, Delhi, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have a higher nett approval rating than the Prime Minister within their respective states.
Out of these states, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu are states where the BJP is eyeing expansion. The BJP/NDA’s primary vote catcher is Modi but if his charisma stalls in these states, then future gains may be limited.
On the flipside, the Opposition’s universe is limited to these non-Congress dominated states. In other words, the Congress is currently unable to mount an effective opposition to the ruling party and any worthwhile opposition comes from the non-Congress leadership.
This state of affairs is best reflected in the nett ratings of Rahul Gandhi and the respective state Chief Ministers. Rahul Gandhi is uniformly rated in the negative either vis-a-vis his party CMs or the others. Therefore, Modi’s relative unpopularity against some Chief Ministers is not benefiting Rahul Gandhi in any way.
Maharashtra, due its high index of opposition unity, is slipping away from the grasp of the NDA. Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is very popular on account of joint support from the Shiv Sena, Congress and the NCP.
The next best is Chhattisgarh where CM Bhupesh Baghel is able to hold fort at a nett approval rating of 1. Jharkhand and Rajasthan are witnessing their usual cycle of anti-incumbency and the NDA may notch some electoral gains based on the relative popularity of Modi. The prospects of the Congress-led Opposition are mixed at best, even after the recent setbacks suffered by the government.
The Chief Ministers of the states who are not aligned to either national parties are doing really well. Only Telangana Chief Minister is relatively less popular than Modi in his state.
The Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Delhi, Odisha and West Bengal are relatively more popular than Modi.
The inherent message is twofold: First, the BJP finds it difficult to unseat non-Congress regional leaders; and second, the Congress has failed to gravitate anti-BJP or even non-BJP vote towards itself.
Hence, it can be concluded that an effective future challenge to the BJP will have to take into account the rejection of Congress’ centrality to opposition leadership.
The survey was carried out among over 30,000 respondents across the country. IANS