February 27, 2014

Indians’ support for Modi, BJP shows an itch for change

When Indians go to the polls a few weeks from now they will decide who will lead the world’s second most populous nation and 10th largest economy. The new government will face challenges reviving economic growth, curbing inflation, narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor and protecting Indians from domestic terrorism. Success or failure may determine whether more and more Indians emerge from poverty and whether India plays an ever greater role on the world stage.

Indian public would prefer the Bharatiya Janata Party rather than the ruling Indian National Congress party to lead the next Indian government. According to a new Pew Research Center survey conducted between December 2013 and January 2014, the Indian public, by a margin of more than three-to-one, would prefer the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rather than the ruling Indian National Congress party to lead the next Indian government.

Moreover, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the prime ministerial candidate of the right-of-center, Hindu-nationalist BJP, is more popular than putative ruling Congress party prime ministerial candidate Rahul Gandhi, the grandson and son of former Indian prime ministers.

Nearly eight-in-ten Indians (78%) have a favorable view of Modi, compared with 16% who hold an unfavorable view.

Modi, who as chief minister of Gujarat has presided over strong economic growth and has been wooing voters by pointing to his track record as a leader who cuts red tape and attracts investment, is strongly popular in the northern states. But his support in the southern states, where historically the BJP has never fared well, is lower than in the northern states.

Overall, Gandhi is seen favorably by half of those surveyed and unfavorably by 43%. Gandhi’s regional support is strongest in the eastern part of the country, and is weakest in the south and west.

There is a notable difference between the intensity of support for Modi and Gandhi. Fully 60% of those surveyed say they have a very favorable view of the Gujarati leader. Just 23% of the public have a very favorable opinion of the heir apparent to the Gandhi family legacy.

The Pew Research survey cannot gauge the level of support for either the BJP or Congress in particular constituencies. But it reveals a widespread desire among Indians for a change in leadership.

A bit about India’s political process: Indian voters will select 543 members of the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the national parliament. No single party has won a parliamentary majority since 1989, so recent governments have involved coalitions of smaller regional parties led by either the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) or the Indian National Congress party.

The new Lok Sabha will elect the prime minister, who will then name a cabinet. The new government can then stay in office for up to five years. But this new government will not be all powerful. In the Indian system, the central government’s power is shared with 28 state governments and seven territories.

There will be 788 million eligible voters in the upcoming election, including nearly 150 million who will have become eligible to vote for the first time since the last national election five years ago. In that 2009 parliamentary election voter turnout was 58%.

See more detailed results and survey methodology from the India survey.

Topics: Asia and the Pacific

  1. Photo of Bruce Stokes

    is director of global economic attitudes at Pew Research Center.


  1. shafiuddin2 years ago

    India should change to their political system to Presidential one. Political parties in fact have devotion and lack of nationalisam rather they are more selfish in respect of their income, religion, community, caste, creed, language. You will find hardly nationalism among Indians. The proof I will submit here is that, during demonstration they happily destroy countries property, they hamper public facilities, they destroy economy. In fact our leaders are responsible for all the such incidents, their voilent nature in order to dictate terms to the government they incite voilence destructions etc.

  2. RD Bhatia3 years ago

    In fact the ruling party must be changed every 5-yrs or the term decided by constitution. This may probably help the citizens to get better benifit from Govt. otherwise they feel their monopoly with no fear from public. Mr. Rajiv Gandhi when alive once told to a corrospondent that he is unfit for politics. Moreover, he has failed to give new idea during the compain. He is simply a reader of the speech. Now that the election-date has been declared, we will see the results=Thanks

  3. Varinder Mittal3 years ago

    Ur sample and survey predictions are v.v.wrong: 1) Other,s Are and Will be more then 40% not 14% as shown by you,2) No party can get more then 35%.. . 3) In many states like W.Bengal,Tamil Nadu,Andhra etc. Congress n BJP are not there… so sorry Pew.

  4. Manu R C3 years ago

    It is a historical wonder – a man, whom all the media and intellectual world criticized for the past ten years become the Savior of ordinary man!

  5. K Venkata Ramana3 years ago

    Since independence of India congress party is going on dividing the people on the name caste, religion, and regional basis. There is no other alternative National political party to defeat Congress. Both Communists and other Socialist Parties are also supports Congress showing BJP as their real enemy. In reality Congress & BJP are having same policies. However, keeping in view of the present political scenario Mr. Narendra Modi is far better than Mr. Rahul Gandhi. Third Front is failure, Aap Aamdi Party is better if people chose alternative in the entire nation. Corrupt, Manipulative and Hereditary politics are curse to our nation. Nothing can be changed without Revolution.

  6. Kumar3 years ago

    Nice realistic piece. India will get real freedom from the corrupt current regime if what feedback you have received is converted to votes.