Balakot air strike, 10% quota and farmers’ scheme gave Modi govt a boost: survey

CSDS-Lokniti survey finds limited impact of Rafale, 'Nyay'.

April 04, 2019 10:05 pm | Updated April 08, 2019 04:48 pm IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. File

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. File

A pre-election survey conducted by Lokniti, a research programme of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Delhi, in March last week suggests that three decisions of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, taken between January 7 and February 26, might have the ability to change the course of what could have been a close election.

The three decisions are the announcement on January 7 of 10% reservation to economically weaker sections , the proclamation on February 1 of the PM-KISAN scheme to transfer money to farmers and the air strike on Pakistan's Balakot in the last week of February after the Pulwama terror attack by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad that claimed the lives of 40 CRPF personnel.

The CSDS-Lokniti-The Hindu-Tiranga TV-Dainik Bhaskar Pre-Poll Survey 2019 found that 43% of the respondents favoured Mr. Modi as Prime Minister, a good seven points higher than what was registered in 2014 by Lokniti. This is also nine points higher than the 34% support registered in May 2018 in Lokniti’s poll across the same States. It is important to note that this rise in popularity took place in the backdrop of the BJP losing three crucial Hindi heartland States to the Congress at the end of 2018.


Question: After the upcoming Lok Sabha election who would you prefer as the next Prime Minister of India? Preference for PM - Post Balakot, quota and cash transfer, Narendra Modi’s popularity soars

 May '14May '17Jan '18May '18Pre Poll '19
Narendra Modi3644373443
Rahul Gandhi169202424
Mamata Banerjee11332
Other leaders1719181913
No response2824191715

All figures in percentage Source: NES 2014, Mood of the Nation 2017, Mood of the Nation Jan 2018 and Mood of the Nation May 2018; NES Pre Poll 2019

However, most respondents in the survey did not openly say that the three issues would be the most important voting issues for them.

When asked to state what the single most important voting issue will be for them, one-fifth of the respondents said it would be unemployment and one-sixth said development. Barely 2% said that national security and the air strike on Pakistan would be the single most important voting issue for them. Reservation was cited by only 3%. Other data from the survey suggests that the three decisions seem to have had impacted voter preferences and opinions, quite possibly at a sub-conscious level.


Four of five respondents were found to have heard or read about the Balakot air strike , and among them preference for Mr. Modi as the next Prime Minister was found to be at 46%. On the other hand among those who weren’t aware of the air strike, Mr. Modi’s acceptability was just 32%. This difference could be seen across all regions, including South India, where Mr. Modi’s is relatively less favoured compared to other regions.

Similarly, among those who had heard of reservation for the general category (57%), Mr. Modi was preferred by 47% of the respondents and 37% among those who had not. Farmers who claimed to have received money in their accounts in the last one month were far more likely to want Mr. Modi as the next prime minister than those who had not, 54% to 42%. However, in the southern and the eastern regions, where some of the State governments have similar money transfer schemes, this difference was not clearly visible.

Awareness about the Balakot air strike, reservation and cash transfer was also found to be making a difference to whether voters wanted to give the government another chance or not. Those who had heard or read about the air strike were far more likely to want the NDA government to return to power than those who had not by a gap of 20 percentage points (50% vs 30%). Similarly, being aware and unaware of the reservation decision and cash transfer yielded a 17-percentage point gap.

Modi more popular among those aware of Balakot air strike, 10% quota and among farmers who have benefited from recent cash transfer


Prefer Narendra Modi as PM (%)

Prefer Rahul Gandhi as PM (%)

Not heard of Balakot air strike



Heard of Balakot air strike






Not heard of 10 reservation for EWS in general category



Heard of 10 reservation for EWS in general category






Farmers who did not receive any money from government in the last one month



Farmers who received money from the government in the last one month




Awareness about the decisions seems to have blunted the adverse effect of “unemployment” on the government’s re-election bid. Respondents for whom unemployment and price rise were the biggest voting issues but aware of these decisions were more likely to want the government to return to power than those unaware.

Interestingly, this differing sentiment about the government and its leadership among those aware and unaware was also found across castes and communities, including among those communities that have traditionally voted for the BJP. For instance, the survey found less than one sixth of upper castes to be unaware about the Balakot air strike, and among them the inclination to give the Modi government another chance was found to be more than two times less than for those who were aware, 31% to 63%.


Dalits who were not aware of the Balakot air strike were far more likely to want the government to go. On the other hand, Dalits who were aware of the air strike were split down the middle on the issue of whether or not to give the government another chance.

Close to half the respondents gave the credit for the air strike to the Indian Air Force only. Two-tenths of the respondents exclusively gave credit to the Modi government. About one in every 10 said that both the Air Force and the government deserved credit. Also, significantly, even though three-fifths of the respondents agreed that the BJP was trying to take the credit for the air strike for electoral gain, a plurality among them (46%) nonetheless favoured giving the government another chance.

Even those who believe that the BJP is taking electoral mileage out of the issue want the government to return to power

 Modi government should get another chance (%)Modi government shouldn’t get another chance (%)
Agree that BJP is taking credit for electoral gain4643
Disagree that BJP is taking credit for electoral gain6627
No response4127


Modi government gets most credit in North and East India and least in South India

Credit for Balakot air strike goes toAir ForceModi govt.Both
North India422031
East India402033
West- Central India411734
South India601617
Hindi-speaking States382234
Non-Hindi speaking States521525


In contrast to the effect of the three decisions, the impact of the Rafale fighter aircraft deal controversy and the Congress’s assurance of a minimum income guarantee to the poor were found to be not as strong. Half the respondents were not found to be aware of the Rafale issue, and even among the other half that was aware, opinion on whether there had been wrongdoing by the government in the deal was nearly split down the middle — 41% believed so and 37% felt otherwise. A sizeable proportion (31%) among those who felt that there had been wrongdoing was in favour of giving the government another chance.

Question: People have different opinions about Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Some say he is a clean and honest man who has tried his best to control corruption, others say he is himself corrupt, and some others say that he may be clean and honest but he has done nothing to control corruption. Which one of these do you agree with? Most of those aware of the Rafale deal controversy more likely to see Modi as clean and honest than as corrupt; even many among of those who believe there has been wrongdoing don’t view Modi as corrupt

 Modi is clean and honest (%)May be clean and honest but has done nothing to control corruption (%)Modi is corrupt (%)
Aware of Rafale deal442424
Not aware of Rafale deal361717
Believe there has been wrongdoing242939
Believe there has not been any wrongdoing681711


Just about half the respondents (48%) polled had heard about the Congress’s Nyuntam Aay Yojna (Nyay) promise and awareness was lower still among respondents who may stand to benefit from it. The promise was, however, made right in the middle of the survey. The Congress president Rahul Gandhi is far more popular among those who were aware about 'Nyay'.

The key to the Congress’s success at blunting Mr. Modi’s advantage may, therefore, lie in further popularising the scheme in the days and weeks ahead. But with the election set to begin in a week’s time, is this too late in the day?


Lokniti-CSDS National Election Study Pre Poll 2019


As part of its National Election Study, Lokniti, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Delhi, conducted a Pre-Poll Survey between March 24th and March 31st, 2019 among 10,010 respondents spread across 19 States of India - Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal. The survey was conducted in 101 Assembly Constituencies (ACs) spread across 101 Parliamentary Constituencies (PCs). The total sample size targeted was 10,100 with an AC/PC-wise target of 100 interviews. In order to decide the number of PCs to be sampled in each of the 19 States, we first gave special weightage to the small States with 14 seats or less in order to achieve a decent sample of 300 from these States. Thereafter, the number of PCs to be sampled in the remaining medium and large States was determined based on the proportion of their electorate in the total electorate of the remaining States. The resultant target sample of each State was then adjusted to the nearest 100.

The sampling design adopted was multi-stage random sampling. This procedure ensures that the selected sample is fully representative of the cross-section of voters in the country. The PCs where the survey was conducted were randomly selected using the probability proportional to size method (adjusting the probability of choosing a particular constituency according to the size of its electorate). Then, one AC was selected from within each sampled PC using the PPS method again. Thereafter, four polling stations were selected from within each of the sampled ACs using the systematic random sampling method. Finally, 38 respondents were randomly selected using the systematic method from the electoral rolls of the sampled polling stations. Of these 38, we set a target of 25 interviews per polling station.

Once we identified our sample among the electorate, trained field investigators or FIs (a training workshop for them was conducted in each State) were sent to meet them. They were asked to interview only those whose names had been sampled. However, at some locations the non-availability of sampled respondents or difficulty in finding households necessitated replacements/substitutions. Our investigators sat down in the homes of people and asked them a detailed set of questions which could take up to 30 minutes. The questionnaire we presented to our sample of voters was designed in the language mainly spoken in the respondents’ State. In Gujarat in Gujarati, in Kerala in Malayalam, etc. Each PC/AC was covered by a team of two FIs, except Tamil Nadu where a team of four FIs was sent to each AC due to late start of fieldwork. A total 216 field investigators conducted the survey at 404 locations.

The achieved national sample is broadly representative of India’s population, in terms of the country's general demographic profile. Data of each State has been weighted by gender, locality, caste group and religion as per Census 2011 percentages.

Profile of the achieved national sample


Raw share in the achieved survey sample (%)

Actual share in total population of 19 States as per Census 2011 (%)

Actual share in India’s total population as per Census 2011 (%)





























Note: Figures have been round off.

The survey was coordinated by scholars from the Lokniti Network: E Venkatesu and Srinivas Rao Gangiredla (Andhra Pradesh), Dhruba Pratim Sharma and Nurul Hassan (Assam), Rakesh Ranjan (Bihar), Lakhan Choudhary (Chhattisgarh), Biswajit Mohanty and (Delhi), Bhanu Parmar (Gujarat), Kushal Pal and Anita Agarwal (Haryana), Harishwar Dayal and Amit Kumar (Jharkhand), Veenadevi and K L Nagesh (Karnataka), Sajad Ibrahim and Rincy Mathew (Kerala), Yatindra Singh Sisodia and Ashish Bhatt (Madhya Pradesh), Nitin Birmal (Maharashtra), Gyanaranjan Swain and Balaram Pradhan (Odisha), Ashutosh Kumar and Hardeep Kaur (Punjab), Sanjay Lodha and Nidhi Seth (Rajasthan), P Ramajayam (Tamil Nadu), Vageeshan Harathi and Ramya C. (Telangana), Mirza Asmer Beg, Shashikant Pandey and Sudhir Khare (Uttar Pradesh), and Suprio Basu and Jyotiprasad Chatterjee (West Bengal).

The survey was designed and analysed by a team of researchers at Lokniti, CSDS. The team included Amrit Negi, Amrit Pandey, Anurag Jain, Dhananjay Kumar Singh, Himanshu Bhattacharya, Jyoti Mishra, Manjesh Rana, Sakshi Khemani, Shreyas Sardesai and Vibha Attri. The survey was directed by Prof. Sanjay Kumar, Prof. Suhas Palshikar and Prof. Sandeep Shastri of Lokniti..

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.