UP assembly elections – What do the opinion polls say?
UP Opinion Poll 2017
In the parliamentary elections of 2014 BJP had a dream run in Uttar Pradesh, which happens to the most populated state in the country apart from being a politically-important one. In fact, it can be said with a degree of certainty that this central Indian state played a major role in helping the party achieve the landslide victory. BJP won 71 of the available 80 seats from UP in the Lok Sabha. In the recent India Today-Axis Opinion Poll it is being touted that the party can be expected to relive those days again with the possibility of winning anywhere between 170 and 183 seats. This is the first time that BJP has got the top position in a pre-poll survey such as this one. However, there is also a possibility that there could be a hung assembly at the elections, which are supposed to happen somewhere around April 2017. The poll by India Today and Axis was done from 5th September to 5th October by a team of 60 individuals who interviewed 22,231 people across all the constituencies. From every borough 50 people were interviewed.
What does the survey say?
The UP assembly has 403 members and a party needs to win 202 seats in order to get a majority. According to the survey Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) headed by Mayawati is expected to be in the second position with 115-124 seats. Samajwadi Party, which is presently in power, is expected to win somewhere between 94-103 seats, thus making it the third party. Congress, which used to be in power in UP during the seats is expected to win a meager 8-12 seats this time around. Incidentally, the party has some major interest in the elections this time around and it did perform much better in the previous assembly elections. All this means that even with its clear majority BJP will not get enough seats to form a clear majority and there is a possibility that it may have to form an alliance or two with the other parties that are expected to poll in anywhere between 2-6 seats. In fact, in certain other polls the other parties (10%) are expected to do better than Congress (6%).
Possible candidates for CM
The same survey has found out that most of its correspondents would want Mayawati to come back as the chief minister in the upcoming elections. This would surely be a major fillip for the former CM. Mayawati, who has already served four terms as the CM, has received 31% of the votes in the survey, while Akhilesh Yadav – the present CM – has come second with 27% votes. Mulayam Singh Yadav, Akhilesh’s father and head of Samajwadi Party, has received only 1% votes, which can be regarded as a poor result. In fact in the last one and a half year Mayawati has stepped up and this firebrand leadership has stood her in positive stead heading to the elections.
The chief ministerial candidate of Congress is Sheila Dikshit, the former chief minister of Delhi. However, just like her party she has fared poorly in the survey as well with just 1% of the possible votes. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who is supposed to play a major role in the aforementioned elections, has not fared much better with just 2% of the votes. In fact, Rajnath Singh, who has previously served as UP CM previously, has polled in 18% votes, while Yogi Adityanath, a BJP MP from Gorakhpur known for his outspoken opinions, has got 14% of the votes.
A lot of people preferred Mayawati for the way she maintained law and order in the state – an aspect that has now seen UP plummet to embarrassing lows. In fact 64% of the correspondents have stated that she would be the most capable person to handle the present situation in the state. In this regard even Rajnath Singh – 18% of the votes – has fared better than the incumbent CM who has polled in 17% of the votes.
An India sans Congress
One of the stated aims of BJP – ever since Amit Shah became its President – is to rid India of Congress. However, as the results of the survey would indicate that idea has very few takers. More than 50% of the correspondents have straightway rejected the idea while 54% have stated that they don’t like the idea of an India without Congress, a party that has played a major role in India achieving independence. BJP has received support from 29% and 17% have said that they are not really sure regarding the implications of the same.
How can Congress improve its situation?
It needs to be remembered in this context that during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections Congress had won just two seats in the state where its candidates were Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. During the whole of September and the first week of October, Rahul Gandhi undertook the Kisan Yatra, which is expected to have resonated to an extent with the farmers in the state. 38% of the correspondents have stated that he remains the person most suited to improve the party’s condition in the state. Priyanka, his sister, is also expected to play an important role in this regard – she has been favoured in this respect by 19% of the candidates. It needs to be remembered in this context that her entry in politics has generated a fair amount of hype. Sheila Dikshit has received just 9% votes in this regard. In fact, it is being touted in certain circles that projecting her as the face of the party in the state in spite of her woeful results in the latest elections in her home state Delhi has killed any positive hype that Congress may have generated prior to the upcoming election. It also needs to be said in this context that the party has left no stone unturned in its effort to make a comeback in the state after 27 years.
Opinions on Ram Mandir politics – other issues that are going to be important in this election
From the looks of it, it seems that BJP cannot really bank on Ram Mandir sentiments to sail through this election. 88% of the correspondents feel that heading to the elections the single biggest issue for BJP would be development, which was their watchword in 2014 as well. Construction of Ram Temple at Ayodhya and protection of cows have aroused a fair bit of controversy of late. However these issues have respectively received 3% and 1% of the votes. For 9% of the correspondents the biggest issue would be how the central government under Narendra Modi has been performing. The voters would also like to focus on other critical issues such as job opportunities, state of roads, and availability of electricity and water. What are also expected to favour BJP are the surgical strikes the Indian Army has carried out recently against the terrorists in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Inflation, a much-neglected topic, is also expected to be on the minds of some people interviewed in the survey.
Atrocities against minorities and Dalits – the critical issue of caste
54% of the correspondents have also stated that ever since the last assembly election in 2012 atrocities committed against minorities and Dalits have increased. This is expected to be an important issue in the election as well. Interestingly enough, BJP is being increasingly supported by the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) with 44% of non-Yadav OBCs saying they will vote in favour of BJP.
The upper-caste voters in UP are also looking to get their lot behind BJP with 61% of such correspondents stating their support. For SP, the core, comprising Yadav voters, remains a major drawcard as exemplified by the support from 67% of such correspondents. As far as Muslims are concerned they are still going with SP as exemplified by the support from 58% of such correspondents. However, 21% of the voters have also said that they would vote for BSP.
BJP’s attempts at gaining the trust of Dalits, who have traditionally voted for BSP, have hit a roadblock with the crimes being committed against members of the community across the country. In the survey, BSP has received the support of 71% of the voters from this community.
Controversies for SP and BSP
Both these parties have been facing some tumultuous times of late with several high-profile members exiting BSP in what can be deemed as the most crucial stage of the pre-election phase. As far as SP is concerned, the party has been facing problems at the top with the much-publicized clash among members of the Yadav family. SP is also feeling the heat of a sharp wave of anti-incumbency opinions.
Results of other opinion surveys
CVoter had done a similar survey back in August where it had been seen that BJP and SP were leading the race. An opinion survey done by CSDS in August itself had shown that SP would lead followed by BJP.
How satisfied are people with the present government?
Surveyors from Axis asked the correspondents how satisfied they are with the performance of the present government with regards to 17 different criteria. This included the following factors:
- condition of local roads
- law and order
- drinking water
- employment opportunities
- health facilities
59% of the people said that they were dissatisfied with the way the state government has been working in its present tenure. Less than 33% however said that they were happy with how the SP government was doing. The general perception is that while the incumbent CM has done some good work it has proved insufficient in helping the state grow to the extent that people expected it to.
From a geographic point of view BJP is leading at present in the eastern and western parts of the state whereas SP is heading, albeit narrowly, in Awadh and central UP. In Bundelkhand, a region with severe development issues BSP is the leader. BJP has a lead of 31% in western UP while both SP and BSP have 27% votes each. In central UP, SP has 29% of the votes as opposed to 28% of BSP and 26% of BJP. In the eastern part of UP, BJP is leading with 33% votes, which is quite a strong lead. In contrast, BSP has 28% votes and SP has 22%.
Reactions to Modi’s performance
Among the people interviewed 62% have found Modi’s performance as PM to be good, while 18% have rated it as bad. 4% of the correspondents have rated it as very bad and 16% people have termed it as very good.