In the fray: On the  CSDS-Lokniti pre-poll survey 2024 findings

Lokniti survey suggests that the Lok Sabha contest is not done and dusted

April 17, 2024 12:20 am | Updated 08:08 am IST

In a country the size and diversity of India, voter choices can be a bundle of contradictions that require careful parsing to unpack and understand. On the one hand, the CSDS-Lokniti pre-poll survey 2024 findings, that unemployment and price rise are the issues of most concern to prospective voters, come as no surprise. In a country with a large youth population and a relatively low per capita income, the lack of sufficient jobs and the persistence of high inflation should be major issues of concern. The survey also reveals that more than half the respondents felt that corruption had increased in the last five years. In its 10-year term, the performance of the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government on the economic front has been rather mediocre, with little being done to lower unemployment even as it has pursued policies that have significantly benefited the elite over the masses. Even as the BJP seeks to emphasise issues such as the inauguration of the Ram temple and Hindutva at high decibel level in its campaigning, the survey reveals that these two issues do not have a high resonance in comparison to livelihood concerns. But the survey also shows that the BJP and its allies have a comfortable 12 percentage point lead over the INDIA bloc, with “leadership” and socio-cultural issues determining higher preference for the ruling party.

The dichotomy in voter perceptions on key issues versus their possible choices provides comfort and concern to both the alliances and the other parties in the fray. While the BJP has engaged in bluster about winning nearly 400 of the 543 seats in Parliament, the chief concerns related to the economy suggest that the party is not having it as easy as it did in 2019, despite the gap in vote shares as expressed in the survey. As for the Opposition, harping on an alternative agenda related to the economy and livelihood concerns could provide it with an opening to narrow down the gap in vote shares in the run-up to the actual hustings. While the poll survey had not focused on State-level dynamics, recent Assembly elections have shown a sharpening of the north-south political divide, with the BJP unable to sway the south on socio-cultural issues as much as it is able to do so in the Hindi heartland and other areas. That close to half the respondents laid out livelihood issues as key concerns should provide an opportunity for the political messaging across the country to be a contest of ideas — about which political group offers the best deal in addressing these concerns. Lastly, it is alarming that nearly 58% of the respondents had lost some or a great amount of trust in the Election Commission of India. The institution must address concerns about the voting process, while asserting its independence in order to regain trust.

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