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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Is Modi’s charisma still driving voters?

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves to his supporters as he arrives to vote during the second and last phase of the Gujarat Assembly elections in Ahmedabad.
| Photo Credit: REUTERS

Much of the discussion on the BJP’s spectacular victory in Gujarat has focused on the leadership factor. Prime Minister Narendra Modi spent considerable time and effort in the campaign. He travelled across the State addressing rallies and participating in road shows. His walk to the polling booth to cast his vote attracted considerable media attention. There is no doubt that he is very much the focus of attention for the BJP in Gujarat. In 2017, it was often said that the victory was much more a victory of Mr. Modi than of the BJP. This time around, the Modi charisma was clearly a key variable in ensuring a near clean sweep of seats. The Gujarat Governance Study, prior to the start of the campaign, showed the impact of Mr. Modi in the elections. The CSDS-Lokniti post-poll survey reasserts that point.

When respondents were asked whether Mr. Modi was successful in fulfilling people’s expectations, one-third (34%) said “to a large extent”. Another two of every 10 said that he fulfilled people’s expectations to “some extent”. Taken together, this accounts for over half the respondents. This is also close to the vote share the BJP secured in the elections. Another close to three in every 10 (28%) said that he had not done much to fulfil their expectations. Another one-sixth (14%) felt that he had not succeeded at all in fulfilling their expectations (Table 1).

More emphatic was the response to whether the voter voted for Mr. Modi in the elections. Close to two-fifths (37%) asserted that to a large extent, they voted for Mr. Modi in these polls. Another two of every 10 endorsed this view to some extent. This support taken together accounts for more than half the respondents. One-fourth felt that the Modi factor was not much while voting in the Assembly election and one-sixth said it was not a factor at all (Table 2). It is clear that the vote in Gujarat was a vote for the national leadership of the BJP.

Sandeep Shastri is National Co-ordinator of the Lokniti network; and Bhanu Parmar is the State coordinator in Gujarat

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