Poll indicates landslide victory by India’s BJP Party
If India's general elections were to be held today, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would likely win a landslide victory, according to the results of a new poll by Pew Research Center.
Sixty-three percent of respondents said they would prefer the Hindu-nationalist BJP to lead the next government, compared with 19 percent who preferred the Indian National Congress (INC), which heads the current governing coalition – a reflection of a widespread desire for a change in leadership. Other parties have the support of 12 percent of the public, while the remainder of survey participants were undecided.
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The survey – conducted between December 7, 2013 and January 12, 2014 – interviewed 2,464 randomly selected adults in states and territories that are home to 90 percent of the Indian population.
Support for the BJP was roughly equal between respondents in both rural and urban India, according to the survey, despite Congress's deep roots in rural areas and its efforts to cement rural political support through employment and food security programs.
In the upcoming election due to be held before May 2014, there will be 788 million eligible voters, including nearly 150 million who will have become eligible to vote for the first time since the last national election five years ago. In that 2009 parliamentary election, voter turnout was 58 percent.
The 2014 Indian election will select 543 members of the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the national parliament. The new Lok Sabha will elect the prime minister, who will then name a cabinet.
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Frustrated by the current government's handling of the economy and its string of corruption scandals, India's electorate is yearning for change. Seven-in-ten Indians said they are dissatisfied with the way things are going in India today, according to the survey.
"Dissatisfaction with recent developments in India is remarkably widespread: among both BJP supporters and Congress backers; among young and old; among rich and poor; and among city dwellers and rural residents," the Washington-based think tank said.
The majority of respondents felt the BJP would be more successful than Congress in dealing with a range of challenges facing Indian society including creating job opportunities, combating corruption and limiting rising prices.
Rising prices are a widespread concern among Indians. The country has been battling with elevated inflation in the recent years, which has left less money in the pockets of consumers.
Modi wins popularity contest
According to the survey, there is a notable difference between the intensity of support for BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi, who is leading his Congress party's struggling campaign.
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Roughly eight-in-ten Indians have a favorable view of Modi, compared with 16 percent who hold an unfavorable view. Meanwhile, just 50 percent of those surveyed viewed Gandhi favorably, compared with 43 percent who did not.
Anna Hazare, a social activist prominent in the anti-corruption movement that presaged the rise of the Aam Aadmi (Common Man) party, was the second most popular national figure after Modi. Sixty-nine percent of the respondents held a favorable view of him, compared with 17 percent who did not.
—By CNBC's Ansuya Harjani. Follow her on Twitter @Ansuya_H