Deciphering the MOOD OF THE NATION

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The cover of the February 3, 2020, issue of India Today magazine has Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his eyes closed and head bent down, with fingers of both hands on his forehead – it appears that he is worried – VERY WORRIED!

I am not sure whether it is an actual photo, or a photoshopped image, but the magazine’s intention is quite clear – it is to show that Modi is worried – and he should be, especially because many things are not going well for him, especially: (1) The anti-CAA protests in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh and elsewhere; (2) The state of the economy; (3) Long-continuing Joblessness; (4) Loss of Maharashtra elections and loss of long-term ally Shiv Sena as a partner; (5) Possible loss of youth and farmer votes in forthcoming elections; and more…

This issue of the magazine carries its biannual Mood Of The Nation (MOTN) Poll, which is published in January and August each year, and which I read regularly. This particular Poll, conducted by Karvy Insights, interviewed 12,141 respondents (67% rural and 33% urban) in 97 parliamentary constituencies.


Overall, not everything is as gloomy for Modi and BJP as the magazine’s cover photo.

As the numbers in the image show, the NDA is projected to win 303 seats, against 353 sets it actually won in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, and 237 seats in the January 2019 MOTN Poll. Considering that this Poll has rightly excluded Shiv Sena from the NDA, the actual seats won by NDA in the 2019 elections is 335, as Shiv Sena won 18 of the 353 seats. Therefore, it is a net loss of 32 seats, or 9.6% of the seats for the NDA.

The UPA is projected to win 108 seats, up 16.1% from its 2019 election tally of 93, but down 34.9% from its January 2019 projection of 166 seats.

The BJP by itself is projected to get only 271 seats, or 10.6% less than the 303 seats it won in the 2019 elections. Congress is projected to win 60 seats, or 15.4% more than the 52 seats it won. BJP is still getting 4.5 times more seats than Congress, and just one seat short of an absolute majority by itself. However, 271 is 11 seats less than what the BJP won in the 2014 elections, so J.P. Nadda and company should be worried.

Let us look at some of the other important numbers in the MOTN Poll of January 2020.

To the question “Who is Best Suited to become the Next Prime Minister of India?”, 53% said Narendra Modi, followed by Rahul Gandhi at 13%, Sonia Gandhi at 7%, and Amit Shah at 4%. Overall, BJP politicians got 61% and Congressis 25%. Rahul was favoured by 32% of Muslim voters, while Modi got 17% of their vote.

To the question “Who has been the Best Prime Minister of India?”, 34% said Narendra Modi, followed by 16% for Indira Gandhi and 13% for Atal Bihari Vajpayee. This was the highest percentage for NaMo in nine polls over the past four years after his 37% score in August 2019. For the original Mrs. G, this was the second-lowest score in four years.

To the question “How do you Rate the Performance of Narendra Modi as PM?”, 30% said Outstanding, 38% said Good, 19% said Average, 9% said Poor and 4% said Very Poor. The combined Outstanding/Good score of 68% is Modi’s second-highest score in nine polls over the past four years. The combined Poor/Very Poor score of 13% is his second lowest in these four years.

To the question “How satisfied are you with the Overall Performance of the NDA Government?”, 26% said Very Satisfied, 36% Satisfied, 20% were Neutral, and 13% were Not Satisfied. Obviously, the 62% satisfaction rate is a thumbs up for Modi 2.0.

Two alternate scenarios were polled.

In Alternative Scenario 1, if all opposition parties except AAP, TMC, BJD, Shiv Sena, TRS and YSRCP join the UPA in a mahagathbandhan, the NDA is projected to get 282 seats (an absolute majority) and the UPA 172. BJP on its own is projected to get 252 seats and Congress only 65.

In Alternative Scenario 2, if AAP, TMC and Shiv Sena join the UPA, a hung parliament is projected. In this scenario, the NDA is projected to get 264 seats (8 short of a majority) and the UPA 230 seats. BJP on its own is projected to get 236 seats and Congress only 71. How likely is is for all opposition parties except BJD, TRS and YSRCP to form a pan-India electoral alliance?

On the CAA-NRC front, there are worries for BJP/NDA. 52% of the respondents said that minorities are feeling insecure about CAA & NRC, and 53% said that this insecurity is justified. As many as 43% said that CAA & NRC are attempts by the NDA Government to divert attention from serious economic issues such as unemployment and price rise.

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