REPUBLIC OF KHICHDI.
NARENDRA Modi who? That's the question the nation's regional political leaders could well ask today, given that the India Today Group- CVoter Mood of the Nation poll has uncovered a resurgent 21st century avatar of the Third Front. The nationwide survey says regional parties will win 251 of the Lok Sabha's 544 seats to make up almost half of the new House if general elections were to be held now; the BJP- led NDA would be a poor second with 155 seats, and the Congress- led UPA an even poorer third with 137.
There's no NaMo wave yet, but the Gujarat Chief Minister is yet to be officially named his party's candidate for Prime Minister.
Also, Modi hasn't announced where he intends to contest from in Uttar Pradesh, an event most analysts say will be a gamechanger. And there's no Rahul Gandhi wave either. 'Third Front' parties--the Left plus the SP, AIADMK, DMK, Trinamool, BSP, RLD, JD(U), MMDK, RJD, BJD, YSR Congress, TRS, TDP, JVM, JD(S), AGP, INLD, LJP, PDP--are set to approximately double their present strength of 126 seats in the Lok Sabha, accounting for 40 per cent of all votes cast, an addition of two per cent over 2009.
Within the Third Front shocker is another surprise. The three women among major regional leaders--West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalith and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati--will together account for 80 Lok Sabha seats, says the survey. These three women leaders will thus make up a formidable bloc.
Jayalalith is set to emerge as the strongest of the three, with the AIADMK projected to get 30 out of the 39 Lok Sabha seats in the state, an increase of 21 more seats over its 2009 tally. Mayawati's BSP is set to gain six seats to take its number to 27 while the Trinamool Congress will bag 23 , four more than its present score. Mulayam Singh remains a force to reckon with. The survey finds the Samajwadi Party in a strong position, taking its current tally of 23 to 34. The Left Front, too, stands to gain eight more seats and take its count to 32. Laloo Prasad Yadav's RJD will get 14, up 10 from its current score of four.
Bad news for Cong
Andhra Pradesh is particularly bad news for the Congress. The emergence of YSR Congress chief Jagan Mohan Reddy in Andhra Pradesh is a gamechanger event, with the new outfit expected to get 13 seats. The Telangana Rashtra Samiti will add an additional 10 seats to its present score of two. The TDP will improve marginally from six to nine. The Congress, which bagged 33 out of the 42 seats in the state, is thus set to lose about 26 seats to these three parties.
All is not well for Nitish either. The Janata Dal (United), which parted ways with the BJP only recently in Bihar, may lose 10 seats from its present score of 20.
According to the survey, the UPA's vote-share may come down to 28 per cent, a negative swing of eight percentage points. The NDA's share is projected at 32 per cent; the 2009 share was 26 per cent.
The survey should worry both Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi, the all-but-announced prime ministerial candidates of their respective parties. Modi's popularity has dipped from 57 per cent in January this year to 45 this month, i.e 12 per cent, while that of Rahul has gone down from 41 to 32.
Modi can derive some satisfaction from being significantly ahead of Rahul in the prime ministerial race. When asked who they preferred as PM between Modi and Rahul, 51 per cent voted for Modi and 44 per cent chose Rahul.
The same exercise for Congress candidates has Manmohan Singh in second place with 15 per cent, P. Chidambaram registering 6 per cent, A. K. Antony 5 per cent, and Sheila Dikshit 3 per cent.
Within the BJP, Modi is followed by L. K. Advani (18 per cent), Sushma Swaraj (6 per cent), Shivraj Singh Chouhan (4 per cent) and Arun Jaitley (3 per cent). The survey also found that that the ghost of Godhra has only grown stronger this year. Asked if Modi should apologise for the 2002 riots, 51 per cent said he should, representing a significant seven percentage point rise over the January figure for the same question, while 38 per cent said he need not, two per cent up from January.
The India Today Group- CVoter Mood of the Nation poll is based on a sample of 15,815 respondents across 28 states, between August 2 and August 10. The Assembly election study is based on a sample of 12,648 respondents across four poll-bound states: Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, between July 20 and August 5. The long-term trends are based on poll data of over 250,000 respondents in the last four years across 540 Lok Sabha constituencies. The margin of error is 3 per cent at the national level and 5 per cent at the regional level.
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