'Modi Factor' To Give BJP Edge In Rajasthan? NDTV's Opinion Poll Says...

A survey of over 3,000 people - across 30 of Rajasthan's 200 Assembly constituencies over a week starting October 24 - threw up a mixed bag of results.

PM Modi is leading the BJP's charge while Chief Minister Gehlot is bidding for re-election (File).

New Delhi:

Days before the 2023 Rajasthan Assembly election, Prime Minister Narendra Modi leads Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot - by five per cent - in the battle of big names, but only 24 per cent of voters are dissatisfied with the Congress government, according to a NDTV-CSDS Lokniti pre-poll survey.

A survey of over 3,000 people - across 30 of Rajasthan's 200 Assembly constituencies over a week starting October 24 - threw up a mixed bag of results, giving the ruling Congress a thumbs-up on some issues, such as state-run schools and hospitals, and handing it a 'frowny face' emoji on others.

The BJP, meanwhile, will be buoyed by voters preferring them (albeit narrowly) to combat problems the Gehlot government has been unable to - increasing corruption, price rise and unemployment.

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Overall, the results suggest the Congress and Chief Minister Gehlot still have some work to do (and with not a lot of time in hand) to retain control of the state - one of the few the party rules on its own.

The Big Picture

On a macro level, 43 per cent of voters say they are 'fully satisfied' with the Gehlot government and 28 per cent are 'somewhat satisfied'. So far, so good for the Congress, since only 10 per cent are 'somewhat dissatisfied' and only 14 per cent are 'fully dissatisfied' with the ruling party.

However, the 'Modi factor', which has won the BJP numerous elections, remains a force.

Asked to choose between the two leaders, the Prime Minister scored a narrow win - 37 per cent to 32 per cent who opted for Mr Gehlot. The key will likely be the 20 per cent who said 'both'.

The party-candidate split - reflecting the choice parties must make between banking on big names as campaigners rather than contenders - is neck-and-neck; 31 per cent said the party is key and 30 per cent plumped for the candidate. PM Modi and Chief Minister Gehlot tied at 13 per cent each.

Significantly, only three per cent of voters are likely to be swayed by Congress MP Rahul Gandhi - whose Bharat Jodo Yatra 'did not benefit' his party; only 28 per cent said it had.

Gehlot Government Report Card

Across the board this is positive for the Congress, with the majority believing government-run schools and hospitals, electricity and water supply, roads, and law and order have improved.

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But there is a caveat. In three instances - roads, women's safety and law and order - the margin is only narrowly in the Congress' favour; two, seven and two per cent, respectively.

Key Issues

Unemployment and price rise are voters' two biggest (identified) concerns - at 21 per cent and 20 per cent, respectively. Poverty and the lack of overall development follow at 15 and 13 per cent.

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Interestingly, corruption comes in at a weak seven per cent.

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The (overwhelming) consensus is that price rise, unemployment and corruption has increased in the five years of Congress rule, and that is bad news for Chief Minister Gehlot. What is worse is that only 31 per cent of voters believe industrial development in the state has advanced in the same time.

Unsurprisingly, the BJP is a winner in the 'development vote' stakes - 48 to 34 per cent - and the party of choice to beat the cost of living crisis and provide jobs, with 48 and 44 per cent opting for them.

Among other issues that voters are responding to are 'cow protection', with a massive 76 per cent flagging this as more important than reservation for marginalised or backward communities.

The Caste-Class-Religion Factor

The Congress has a landslide edge over the BJP in the Muslim vote stakes - 86 per cent to nine - and a comfortable eight per cent lead among Jat voters, but that is about as good as it gets. The BJP edges ahead among Rajputs and backward communities, and it is too close to call among Dalits.

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Voter Demographics

The women's safety question may hurt the Congress, with 45 per cent of women likely to vote BJP compared to just 39 per cent for the Congress. Among men the split is 43-41 in favour of the BJP.

Who Should Be Chief Minister?

The answer is comfortably in favour of Mr Gehlot - 27 per cent. Well behind him is his predecessor - the BJP's Vasundhara Raje - with 14 per cent. And the fact 15 per cent will take 'anyone from the BJP' is a signal Ms Raje's standing as the party's most powerful state leader is beginning to decline.

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Former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot - whose rebellion against Mr Gehlot in 2020 nearly brought the Congress' government down - claims just nine per cent of potential voters.

The Prediction?

The warning first - these figures are to be taken with a healthy pinch of salt and are, most likely, not what the final result will be. That said, the BJP does seem to have a narrow advantage in a state that has voted out the incumbent party in every election since 1993, when the BJP was voted back.

All is not over for the Congress, though, with voters responding favourably to the work done by the Gehlot government in many instances. It would appear that the Congress must now work on convincing Rajasthanis that they can continue to do good work, if given the chance.

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