Until India gets “One Nation, One Election” whereby all state assembly and municipal/panchayat and other local body elections are held simultaneously with the general elections to the Lok Sabha (LS), we will have to live with the phenomenon of frequent elections.
I wrote in my 13th book “Congress-Mukt Bharat” that India is the only major country in the world with a LS or Assembly election every 3-5 months. This has many disadvantages. About ₹1.6 lakh crore is spent every five years on LS, assembly or municipal/other local body elections. This includes expenditure in ‘black’ money. Thousands of government officers do election duty, leading to loss of lakhs of man-days. The work of security forces gets disturbed. Elected politicians waste time on campaigning. This includes the PM/CMs and Union/state ministers who we elect and pay to do work and not for electioneering. India used to have simultaneous LS and state elections until 1967, but the cycle got disrupted with the dissolution of some assemblies in 1968 and 1969, after which ‘mid-term elections’ became the norm.
In the US, elections are held on the ‘First Tuesday after 1st November’ in every even-numbered year. There is a Presidential election every four years in the same year as the Olympics (2016, 2020, 2024). Elections for the U.S. Senate (Upper House) are held every six years and the U.S. House of Representatives (Lower House) every two years. In November 2020 for example, every American had several ballots. Everyone had the Presidential ballot. Depending on the state/county/city one could also vote for a U.S. Senator, a U.S. Representative, state Governor (similar to CM in India), state Senator, state Representative, Mayor of a city, City Councilmen, Police Chief/Sheriff, U.S./State/District Attorney, or some other post. In some states, a citizen could also be voting on issues, rather than just electing candidates. The issue could be—“Should Uber be banned in your city?” or “Should a shopping mall be built in a particular location?” Governments complete full terms, defections are not allowed, and if an elected official dies, the seat remains empty till the next scheduled election. No ifs, no buts!
The next round of assembly elections will be held in February-March 2022 in Uttar Pradesh (UP), Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa, and Manipur, and this article pertains to the mood of the people of Goa, as per a CVoter poll (survey). All figures and graphics pertain to what people in Goa said to the pollsters.
CVoter (Center for Voting Opinions and Trends in Election Research) is a leading Indian research agency that conducts ongoing “Mood of the Nation” political polls on a weekly basis throughout the year, with a sample size of 3,000 respondents per week. The data here is from their latest poll which ended on September 3, 2021. I have created the graphs after excluding people who answered “Don’t Know/Can’t Say” to each of the questions, and then diving the remaining responses in proportion.
The first question is the satisfaction with the work of ‘Modi Sarkar’. Keeping in mind that this poll comes in the background of the Anti Modi Brigade’s propaganda of the last 8-9 months that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has had two recent major failures—agriculture sector reforms and management of the Covid-19 second wave—the 71.8% ‘approval rating’ for Modi Sarkar is more than remarkable. The Goa rating is ~5.7% higher than the ‘national rating’ of 67.9% in the same poll. Voters in UP gave an approval rating of 68.8%, Manipur 66.6%, and Uttarakhand 61.4%. The Central Government’s rating was the lowest in Punjab at only 31.5%. Obviously, the farmer agitation has taken its toll on Punjab.
The next question pertains to the personal popularity of Prime Minister Modi, or rather the percentage of people who are satisfied with his work as India’s fourth-longest-serving prime minister, and the longest-serving PM who does not belong to the Congress party.
I am surprised that Modi’s personal ‘approval rating’ of 71.8% in Goa is the same as his government’s rating. I have observed in several ‘national’ polls by several pollsters over the last seven years that Modi’s personal rating has consistently been higher than that of his government.
Modi’s national approval rating is 69.7% and it is clear that Goans like him more that people of other states.
His personal rating in UP is 72.2%, Manipur 63.2%, Uttarakhand 60%, and Punjab 40.1%.
Modi’s approval rating has hovered between a low of 64% and a high of 72% during the same period as this poll was conducted, in American market research company Morning Consult’s “Global Leader Approval Rating Tracker”, which tracks the leaders of the world’s 13 largest economies (except China and Russia) on a weekly basis. Modi supporters and fans, or ‘Bhakts’ as they are referred to fondly by the Anti Modi Brigade, will be pleased to know that Modi has been No.1 among these 13 world leaders every week for the past 21 months, if not longer.
We next come to the approval ratings of India’s Home Minister and former BJP chief Amit Shah, who is No. 2 in the government and is also considered No. 2 in the party, despite JP Nadda being party president. Shah is the most likely BJP/NDA candidate for the post of PM when Modi retires in Sep/Oct 2025, on attaining the age of 75, a rule the PM has followed for all his ministers since the beginning of his first term. As we see here, Shah has a moderate approval rating of 55.7% in Goa, which is much lower than his 62.6% national approval rating. His rating in Manipur is 69%, Uttarakhand 64.1%, UP 59.2%, and Punjab 30.3%.
Let’s move on to the dynasty which, despite losing election after election in the last 87 months, still believes that they are the ‘natural rulers of India’, and that the BJP and Modi have wrongly snatched away their right to preside over New Delhi. Yes, who else but the Nehru-Gandhi-Vadra dynasty!
The first question asks what people think about the work of ‘interim’ Congress president Sonia Gandhi. She has been the ‘interim president’ for 23 months already, though the word interim means ‘provisional’, or ‘acting’, or ‘stopgap’, or ‘caretaker’. The reality is that, barring 20 months from Dec 2017 to Aug 2019 when her son Rahul was party president, she has been Congress president for almost 23½ years. During her ‘reign’, the party has seen an average 31.6% decline in vote share and a 50.2% decline in seats in the Lok Sabha.
Frankly, I am surprised with the 58.3% approval that Goans have given her, considering the fact that her national approval rating is just 48%, while it is just 36.7% in Punjab (a Congress-ruled state), 45% in Uttarakhand, 47.9% in UP, and 52.3% in Manipur.
Next, we come to Madam’s son, the one and only Rahul Gandhi. His national approval rating is 49.7%. Imagine, if 50.3% of Indians are ‘not satisfied’ with this dynast even as an opposition leader, what would be the situation if he was the PM of our country? But what do people in Goa say about his work?
With a very poor showing of 41.4% (16.7% lower than the national rating), it is clear that Goans see through Rahul’s antics and lies.
Among the other four states, he only got a positive rating in Manipur, at 52.3%. In the other four states, Rahul got 45.6% in UP, 40.2% in Punjab, and a pathetic 33.8% in Uttarakhand. Except in Punjab, where he got a higher rating than Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh as well as Punjab’s MPs, in all other states, Rahul’s rating is lower than the CMs, opposition leaders, MPs, and MLAs of those states.
Who do Goans want as the next PM of India?
Frankly, I am a bit surprised that Arvind Kejriwal has got 22.5% votes and Rahul Gandhi 21%. Nationally, Modi leads with 49.7%, Rahul is a distant second with just 13.44%, Kejriwal is third with 8.92%, former PM Dr. Manmohan Singh is fourth with 6.18%, while UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is fifth at 3.33%. As many as 18.4% people want some other person as India’s next PM.
The Table below gives the break-up of the voters’ choice of India’s next prime minister in the five states (including Goa) that are going to have assembly elections in the next five months.
See how Rahul Gandhi scores the highest in Goa. Also see how 22.3% of Punjabis want the 89-year-old Dr Manmohan Singh (who will be almost 92 when the next PM takes office) as their choice.
As many as 33.2% of Punjabis and 22.5% of Goans want Arvind Kejriwal as India’s next Prime Minister, even though he has completely botched up management of one of India’s smallest states (Delhi), where many subjects such as law & order are not even the responsibility of the state government. For example, GoaChronicle Editor-in-Chief Savio Rodrigues and I have proved in our bestseller “Modi Stole My Mask” how Kejriwal mismanaged the second wave of Covid-19 in Delhi.
As per the CVoter poll, in an American-style two candidate election (also prevalent in over 55 other countries) between Modi and Rahul Gandhi, amongst Goa voters, Modi with 58.2% of the votes beats Rahul with 39.6% fair and square. If we remove the ‘None of them’ votes (as there is no third choice in most countries), Modi gets a 59.5% majority, with Rahul only managing 40.5%.
Across India, Modi with 56.4% beats Rahul with 33%. If we remove the ‘None of them’ votes, Modi gets a whopping 63.1% majority, with Rahul only managing 36.9%. A huge 39.4% of Punjabis said ‘None of them’ and 9.4% said ‘Can’t Say’. After excluding these two categories, Rahul beats Modi with a 19.3% margin. Modi’s victory margin over Rahul in a direct contest is highest in Uttarakhand at 31.2%, followed by Manipur at 21.3%, Goa at 19.1%, and UP at 17.8%.
The next set of questions pertain not to a party, a government, or a leader, but to the situation in the nation, and how it has impacted the lives of Indians.
The first one is about the respondent’s living standard in the last one year.
In Goa, 34.1% said that his or her living standard has improved in the past year, (18.4% all-India) while 13.2% said it has remained the same (25.6% all-India) and 52.7% said it has worsened (56% all-India). This is not surprising, considering how severely the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted all economies of the world. How would India be any different?
What do people feel their living standard will be in the next one year? As many as 35.4% were hopeful of an improvement (45.9% all-India) as against 19.1% saying it will remain the same (10.6% all-India), and 45.5% still being gloomy (38.1% all-India) about the future. Why do a larger percentage of Goans (than all Indians) have negative feelings about the future?
What is the biggest problem the nation is facing today?
I will now come to a set of four questions which are more important in deciding the outcome of Goa’s assembly elections than the popularity or approval ratings for Modi or his government.
It is very clear from these results that Goanese people are by and large happy and satisfied, as the three green boxes show. I will cover Goa in more detail in a separate article.
These pertain to the approval ratings of the state government, the chief minister (CM), the leader of the opposition in the state, and the local MLA.
It is very clear from these results that Goan people are satisfied (a very high 78.6% approval rating) with the 48-year-old Chief Minister Pramod Sawant—who has been CM since March 2019 when his predecessor Manohar Parrikar passed away from pancreatic cancer at the relatively young age of 63—and his government (very similar 78.3% approval rating).
What about the approval for the state’s leader of the opposition and the respective 60 MLAs (22 of the NDA, 15 of the UPA, and 3 independents)?
In the absence of a constituency-wise break-up of the MLAs, it is impossible to figure out whether the approval ratings of the NDA’s MLAs is higher or those of the UPA. But overall, a 65% average approval for all 40 MLAs is a healthy sign.
Congress party’s former chief minister Digambar Kamat is the Leader of the Opposition in the state. His approval rating of 56.9% is nowhere close to Pramod Sawant or his government.
Therefore, one can safely conclude that Sawant will lead the NDA back to power in the forthcoming elections.
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DISCLAIMER: This article reflects author’s view point. Goa Chronicle may or may not subscribe to views of the author.