CSDS-Lokniti 2024 pre-poll survey | Satisfaction and discontent: the dual narrative of PM Modi’s governance

There is a slowly growing uneasiness with the Narendra Modi regime; yet, this discontent has not yet reached to an electorally decisive level.

April 13, 2024 05:40 am | Updated 08:12 am IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses an election meeting at Kanhan (Pipri) in Nagpur.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses an election meeting at Kanhan (Pipri) in Nagpur. | Photo Credit: ANI

The performance of the Modi government has emerged as an important electoral issue. The BJP is keen to highlight its achievement to show that voters are fully satisfied with the policies and programmes introduced by the BJP-NDA government in the past ten years. The Opposition, on the contrary, is interested in focusing on social disquiet, economic hardship, and political anxieties to pose a serious challenge to the ruling party.

Our survey goes beyond these simplistic political explanations and introduces a complex and multifaceted picture. There is a slowly growing uneasiness with the regime; yet, this discontent has not yet reached to an electorally decisive level. Four key findings need to be highlighted for a comprehensive assessment of the emerging political scenario.

First, there is an overall satisfaction regarding the performance of the Union government in the past five years. Over 57% respondents affirm that they are fully or partly satisfied with the Modi-regime (Table 1). However, this affirmation should not be exaggerated. Data shows that the level of dissatisfaction with the government has also increased significantly. Our 2019 study has found that around 30% respondents were not happy with the first Modi government. In the past five years, this number has gone up to 39% while there is a huge dip in overall satisfaction from 65 percent in 2019 to 57 percent now.

Second, there is a class dimension behind this acceptability of the Union government. The economically rich and contended class of people is more inclined favourably towards the regime. Around 62% respondents belonging to the upper segment of society express their positive opinion about the government. On the contrary, the lower and middle classes are more dissatisfied in comparison to other economic groups (Table 2). This class-based response is understandable.

We have a vast and diversified middle economic layer, which can be divided into two subcategories — lower class and middle class — for the sake of analysis. These groups have been facing the problems of growing unemployment and price rises in an unprecedented manner. This ever-growing economic crisis plays a significant role in determining their political opinions and judgments. This correlation between class-location and political response also underlines the fact that class is slowly emerging as an important political category.

Third, the spatial context of an individual respondent is also a very important factor, which introduces us to a very different set of public perceptions. The Modi government gets positive approval at the village level. Around 60% rural respondents confirm that they are happy with the government in comparison to 50% in urban areas expressing satisfaction (Table 3).

Table 4 further complicates this picture. The approval rating for the Union government is quite widespread. The northern and western States are more satisfied than the southern region (though the overall satisfaction in the south revolves around the average national approval for the Union government).

Fourth, the performance of the government should also be assessed in relation to the sociological configurations at the grassroot level. Table 5 clearly demonstrates that Muslims as a social group are not very happy with the performance of the Modi government in this term. Only 8% Muslims say that they are fully satisfied; while 24% argue that they have somewhat a positive opinion about the BJP government. This Muslim response must be seen in relation to category called Others, which also includes Sikh and Christian communities. It simply means that the religious minorities are more concerned and feeling alienated.

These four factors, broadly speaking, make it clear that BJP under Narendra Modi enjoys a significant level of popular approval. It does not, however, mean that this acceptability is stable and enduring. The disappointment with the Union government is also visible, especially among the economically marginalised communities and minorities.

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