Modi as PM candidate boosts BJP's chances: polls

NEW DELHI Thu Oct 17, 2013 12:45pm IST

1 of 3. Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi, prime ministerial candidate for India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), sits on a weighing scale balanced with silver during the inauguration of the Mumbai Diamond Merchant Association's Diamond Hall in Mumbai September 30, 2013.

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Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, daughter of Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, adjusts her flower garlands as she campaigns for her mother during an election meeting at Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh April 22, 2014. REUTERS/Pawan Kumar

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has picked up support since naming Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi as its candidate for prime minister last month, but would need allies to form a government, two new opinion polls show.

The world's largest democracy is due to hold its largest ever general election within the next six months.

Modi, three times chief minister of Gujarat, was put forward by the main opposition party in September, cementing the rise of a leader who many think is capable of turning round the economy but who remains tainted by deadly religious riots that broke out on his watch in 2002.

The ruling Congress party has led a coalition government for nearly a decade but is headed for its worst ever performance in a general election as it battles allegations of corruption and a sluggish economy, a survey by pollsters Team Cvoter for two television networks showed.

The survey forecasts the BJP to pick up 162 seats. The last Cvoter survey conducted in August, before Modi was named, forecast the party would get 130 seats, up from the 116 it now holds.

The Congress tally would drop to 102 seats from the 206 it now holds in the 545-member lower house of parliament if voting in the election were to reflect the poll, conducted for the India TV and Times Now networks and released late on Wednesday.

A coalition led by the BJP is expected to win 186 seats, meaning the BJP would have to find new allies among regional parties if it were to form a government. To rule, a party needs the support of 272 members of parliament.

The BJP and Congress are India's largest national parties but political power has shifted in recent years to smaller regional or state-level parties, making them kingmakers during coalition building and giving them more influence over policy.

Modi is credited with helping Gujarat's economy achieve average yearly growth in the double digits in the past decade and he is popular among many wealthy businessmen.

But he remains a polarising figure, even within his own party, and some analysts believe he would struggle to cobble together a coalition.

A federal government beholden to regional parties with their own diverse agendas could be fragile and unwieldy, making it harder to manage Asia's third-largest economy, whose growth rate has already slowed to a decade low after a period of policy paralysis.

However, another opinion poll, released on Thursday, suggested the BJP could make major gains against regional rivals in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, home to a quarter of the population of 1.2 billion.

In Uttar Pradesh, which contributes more seats to parliament than any other state, the BJP will emerge as the largest party, ending years of dominance by two local politicians, the poll, carried out by Nielsen for the Economic Times newspaper, showed. It predicted 27 seats for the party out of 80 at stake, almost three times its tally in the last election.

Survey respondents said riots last month that pitted Hindus against Muslims in Uttar Pradesh, killing at least 50, were likely to consolidate Hindu votes behind the party.

Elections are notoriously hard to predict in India, which has very complex demographics.

The Cvoter study was based on a national sample of 24,284 randomly selected respondents. The data was collected between August 16 and October 15 - the period four weeks before and four weeks after Modi was declared as the BJP's candidate.

The Nielsen poll used a sample of 8,494 respondents, a mix of voters and opinion leaders, in rural and urban areas of two states. The data was collected between September 4 and September 26.

(Reporting by Malini Menon; Writing by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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Comments (2)
Subrabhama wrote:
The UPS led by Congress deserves to be defeated. But it will be a sad day if Modi leads a coalition which is to defeat the Congress. Though there has been wide publicity about Modi’s achievements in Gujarat, there are equally adverse comments on his role, especially his attitude toward minority communities. Though he does not mouth hindutva slogans, at heart he is a hard core fundamentalist who does nto inspire confidence among many other communities. The BJP is unlikely to get more alliance partners from other parties for this reason alone. The popular wave in favour of Modi is more like the admiration of the masses for the uniformed generals and there is a large dose of fascism in it. Given the ultimate sanity the Indian voters, it is unlikely to happen. However, after the General Election in 2014, India may have to face some months of uncertainty in forming a Government and there will be a new coalition, the composition of which is as yet undecipherable.

Oct 17, 2013 5:01pm IST  --  Report as abuse
rajanalex wrote:
Would you buy a Rs 1 crore property just because a leading real estate tycoon tell you that is its real value?? Any prudent investor will double check this claim from a number of sources before parting with their money.

Similarly there are opinion polls and opinion polls. Before you accept their findings, we should have an idea of the track record of these polling agencies. This goes too for this evening’s TimesNow-CVoter opinion poll. And if we do, we will find CVoter possess a track record that hardly inspires any confidence.

We can even understand opinion polls not consistent with their touted statistical margin of error, But how about one missing the trend all together? CVoter possess this dubious distinction. Here are a few examples of some key polls that CVoter undertook that attracted mud on their face…

Oct 17, 2013 11:07pm IST  --  Report as abuse
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