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Dec 18, 2012 at 06:56pm IST

Survey indicates Modi's popularity is intact: Suhas Palshikar

Professor Suhas Palshikar of CSDS joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on the CNN-IBN post-poll findings in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.

Q. Rath Yatra, Babri Masjid incident got the BJP from 2 seats to 80...Do you think Modi victory in Gujarat can become another such incident for the BJP...Will it really help if Modi gets to the centre? Asked by: JK

A. This idea is too centered around one leader. BJP's future will depend upon MP, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan etc and also on coalition equations.

Survey indicates Modi's popularity is intact: Suhas Palshikar

Professor Suhas Palshikar of CSDS joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on the CNN-IBN post-poll findings in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.

Q. From your answers its clear, Gujarat is for BJP but Modi Mantra may not work in 2014 general election. As Ambanis, Tata, Amitabh Bachchan or many national icons give arguments in favor of Modi. Will it have any impact on youth of India? Asked by: Aravind

A. Do these people have such a sway on the citizens and the youth?

Q. Does he not have opposition from within the BJP?...you think that he is capable of acting against dissent on the national level? Asked by: JK

A. Within BJP, there are many contenders and competitors. Apart from Sushma Swaraj and Jaitly, Shivraj Singh Chauhan could emerge as a challenge too.

Q. What's the role of middle class in Modi's win? Asked by: Tapan Mishra

A. Huge, Modi is the most popular icon of the middle classes and that is his main strength because this class also influences media, and public discussions of politics.

Q. As a follow up to my question on Hindu mobilization. Isn't it correct that Modi can mobilize even more effectively than what happened in 89-96 because the medium has changed.He can and does reach out to millions using media which was not there in 89-96. Internet, 3D etc. Also urban India has increased from 89-96 and Urban India is perfect for the Modi effect? Asked by: IBN Viewer

A. In the first place the appeal of Hindutva today is not as strong as it was in early 90s. Secondly, there is a vast India beyond cities and beyond internet. That India is less interested in Hindutva. So, Modi will have to redefine himself if he wants to move onto the national stage.

Q. Can Narendra Modi relate to the youth of the Nation as Rahul Gandhi can? Asked by: Pratik

A. Only time will tell.

Q. There are many regional parties and respective leaders quite popular in state but not able to make national like Nitish, Karunanidhi, Mulayam, Jayalaitha, Mamata etc but do you think Modi has advantage as he comes from a national party with sound ideological base? Asked by: Anvesh

A. I am afraid, I do not see the point. If BJP is the largest party and if its leader is accepted by others as PM only then, it has an advantage. But we still operate in the era of coalitions and it is not unlikely that a leader of a regional party would become Prime Minister.

Q. Modi's relevance in Gujarat v/s Modi's relevance in National Politics. Do you think Modi will want to leave Gujarat and try and become one of the leaders in BJP or would prefer being the king here in Gujarat. Asked by: JK

A. From all indications, it now seems that Modi is ready to enter national level politics and he could do that by remaining CM of Gujarat for the time being.

Q. Also, there is an obvious dearth of leaders at the national level. I would wager that 2014 might just become a battle of individual personalities. Would you agree with that assessment? Judging the current crop of candidates across the spectrum; Rahul Gandhi, Mulayam, Chidambaram, Mayawati, Sushma, Jaitley and Modi... the choice, for any discerning, forward-looking, development-oriented citizen, is quite clear. Asked by: Kart

A. I am sure there are many candidates for top position in 2014. But our elections are not presidential elections and PM is decided through parliamentary majority which itself may be based on coalitions. Citizens do have a somewhat broad choice with many contenders for top position. I am not sure that the choice is obvious--everyone will have their own political and ideological considerations in preferring one over the other.

Q. What do you the perceive the BJP strategy will be in 2014? Will they project Modi as their leader against his Congress counterpart Rahul Gandhi? Asked by: Pratik

A. I am not sure BJP will project Modi as PM candidate. They will surely give him more prominence particularly in campaign in central India. I also think that 2014 is some distance away and the next one year will be crucial for parties to frame their policies.

Q. The Congress has 11 MP's from Gujarat. If they lose them they could be in trouble. Asked by: Manish Sharma

A. In principle, yes. But last time, Gujarat voted slightly differently in Assembly (2007) and Lok Sabha ( 2009). When elections are very close to each other the effect is more palpable. In some states, like Karnatka, we also witness a growing tendency of voting to different parties in LS and Assembly. But broadly, you are right, Congress MPs from Gujarat would find it difficult to get re-elected.

Q. Modi's main support base is the urban middle classes and the youth. Post delimitation, the urban seats have gone up in Gujarat. Is this one of the reasons for the expected margin of Modi's victory? If yes, do you see this benefiting him on the national stage also? Asked by: Svetaketu

A. A) Number of fully or mostly urban seats in Gujarat is still not more than half. B) Modi's popularity actually cuts across locality, though in urban areas he is more popular. C) At the all India level, this becomes less pertinent because there the party's organizational strength in each state will matter more.

Q. do you think schemes like aadhar and direct cash transfer, and free smart phones will be a game changer for congress in 2014? Asked by: Sumit Ahlawat

A. The Congress surely hopes it to be so--last time around in 2009, the Congress went to polls with NREGA and few other schemes. Cash Transfers can certainly potentially change the scenario--if implemented effectively. One must also remember that in 2009, a more robust economy was an additional factor, something that is not on Congress' side this time.

Q. But Modi (all demons aside) does have the image of being incorruptible, dedicated... as opposed to the present UPA govt which is plagued by economic and fiscal paralysis... not to mention the plethora of corruption cases that are discovered monthly... Do you believe that the BJP, with Modi at the helm, will still find it hard to topple this apathetic govt? Asked by: Kart

A. People would always have a combination of measurements in assessing a leader. Modi's style of functioning and Modi's handling of the Muslim community can be crucial factors to some.

Q. So who are the parties Modi is not acceptable to? I only find JD(U) and maybe TDP(though that might change as he is desperate in AP). Who else? Asked by: IBN Viewer

A. Trinmool if it joins NDA besides JDU and TDP again, if it joins NDA. The issue is that many parties may not publicly declare their views on Modi but when it comes to negotiating with BJP, the issue of NDA leadership may arise. Secondly, for BJP to be able to form a government, it would be necessary to attract more partners rather than being smug about Modi's acceptability to some of its existing partners.

Q. You in response to another question in an earlier chat the BJP will win reduce majority. Have you changed your view? Asked by: Manish Sharma

A. As of now, I have data only from the first phase areas and it indicates that BJP is comfortably onto the road to victory. As for seats, we at the CSDS do not do seat projections. Professor Rajeeva Karnadikar, who is an expert in statistical modelling, does that. We would know about full post poll outcomes only tomorrow.

Q. How much of a bearing will the Gujarat polls have on the fate of the nation leading into the general elections in 2014? Asked by: Pratik

A. For next Lok Sabha elections, Gujarat would have limited relevance. This is a state where BJP anyway is very strong and so winning it does not add any thing new to BJP's strength. One factor of course becomes pertinent and that is Modi's imminent entry into national level politics.

Q. Why does media keep harping on factor that Modi is not acceptable to other parties? Shiv Sena, Akalis and Jayalalitha seem to have no problem with him. Naveen Patnaik also has never raised any concerns. So that leaves only JD(U). Asked by: IBN Viewer

A. Jaylalitha and Naveen Patnaik had kept themselves away from NDA in last election itself, so whether they have raised issues about Modi is not really relevant at the moment. The issue of Modi's acceptability is a more real-life issue and not just media creation.

Q. Extrapolating the results, and the fact the average Indian is dissatisfied by the Congress govt at the Center, if BJP does project Modi as the PM candidate, what are it's chances of victory in 2014?? As opposed to going into the elections with no clear candidate? Asked by: Kart

A. Assuming that your other claims are accurate--that people are dissatisfied with Congress generally, it would still be tough for BJP to win with Modi as the leader. Modi is undoubtedly popular in Gujarat but his popularity in other states and his acceptability to BJP's partners is yet untested.

Q. Can Modi polarize Hindus across India to counter act the polarisation of muslims against him if he moves to center? Asked by: IBN Viewer

A. The BJP tried to bring Hindus together in the period of 1989-96. That did not work. Therefore, it is unlikely that Modi would be able to do that now. He may not try that. Instead, he would try combining the Hindutva appeal with a claim as to how he developed Gujarat. Secondly, while in Gujarat, Muslims have desisted from voting for BJP since 2002, it is wrong to say that Muslims voted as a vote bank across the country. Their vote varies state-wise and in some cases even within the state a more nuanced vote takes place by Muslims. This is true of many other communities/caste blocs also.

Q. Sir, do you think that the points of development and growth are now palatable to middle class and BPL people? Do consider precedent of 2004 debacle of NDA's India Shining campaign! Asked by: Sharik Laliwala

A. Growth and Development are indeed ideas with broad appeal. The trouble is that parties need to explain what they mean by these ideas and where they start for implementing them. A survey after 2004 showed that not just the poor but even middle class voters felt that new economic policies benefited only the rich. Such impression is to the disadvantage of the parties in power. After that, as MP and Chhattisgarh have shown development with a focus on rural development and poverty alleviation appeals to the voters better. In the India Shining campaign, the disaffection caused by the pro-rich image was neglected and BJP had to pay its price.

Q. A Big Modi win would make Nitish rethink on Modi as PM idea? Asked by: KS Prasad

A. Not necessarily. One, leaders from other states too have huge popularity in their states. Two, outside one's own state, most of these leaders including Modi have limited popularity. Three, in a coalition format, Prime Minster will be elected on the basis of acceptability among partners and Modi has yet to gain that. So, Nitish Kumar may not support Modi just because he has proven his popularity in Gujarat.

Q. I voted and knew the young generation between 18-40 are with Modi and you can say out of 10 9 guys are voted and 7 for Modi? So what do you say about seats? Our project 135 to 140 for BJP? And i m interested about HP as I visited in May and there were 6 like BJP and 4 Congress? What will be the result over there? Asked by: Atir

A. It is very difficult to counter personal impressions. What you are reporting are basically personal impressions and social science and election polling have for quite some time, adopted more rigorous methods for making estimates of this sort. Having said that, one would agree that in Gujarat, BJP is in a comfortable position. yet, it would be unlikely that BJP would end up getting something like 70 percent vote as you estimate. Particularly in HP, both around end October and now after the election, we found that both Congress and BJP are almost equally poised.

Q. I guess Gujarat is a foregone conclusion but on which party do you put your money in Himachal Pradesh? Asked by: Ankit

A. In the case of Himachal, I would rather save my money than put it on any party! Our survey shows that both have almost equal chance with a difference on one percent in favour of the Congress. While a substantial section wants BJP back in power, to balance that finding, we also have a finding that Virbhadra Singh is the most popular leader in the state.

Q. Will it be a big morale boost for Congress if it manages a win in Himachal. Will it give a chance to the Congress party to make it a point that they are back on track? Asked by: Ankit

A. While a win in HP can be a morale booster, the significance of that win should not be exaggerated. Firstly, because it will have only limited effect on national level politics and secondly because since 1985, HP never reelected the same party to power.

Q. Sir, would be interesting to know, what was the sample size taken for this survey? Also, what is the confidence level for the result? Asked by: Narayan

A. We went to the same sample that we had taken for the pre-poll. For actual rate of achievement in places where voting ended only on 17th, we do not have final figures as yet or post poll in those areas would end only tonight. For the areas of first phase of voting, the achieved sample size was 1800 from 120 locations ( polling station areas). We do not expect a variation of more than 3 percent because our sample is fairly representative in terms of women, SCT/ST etc parameters for which there is a test based on actual census figurs.

Q. What does the survey find? Is there a swing in favour of Modi or is the swing against the Congress? What are the reasons for the Swing either way? Asked by: Narayan

A. The post poll survey indicates that Modi's popularity is very much in tact. While final reports from those areas where voting took place on 17th are yet awaited, we can safely say that Modi is the most popular leader in Gujarat today and this does not involve any great swing either way.

Q. What is the percentage of Muslims (Minorities) voted for BJP? Is there an increase? If so, is it not high time for Congress to shut its mouth regarding Godhra? Asked by: Raghavan

A. We would know about the percentage of Muslim respondents who voted for BJP only by tomorrow. However, indications are that the increase in Muslim vote for BJP would be only limited. This is natural given the image presented by BJP in Gujarat.

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