Half of them disapprove of the prime minister’s management of India’s volatile relationship with Pakistan
GN Bureau | September 22, 2016
“Just 22 percent of the public approves of Modi’s management of India’s volatile relationship with Pakistan. Half disapprove. This harsh judgment is relatively unchanged from 2015,” says the report authored by Bruce Stokes, director of global economic attitudes at Pew Research Center.
The report – “India and Modi: The honeymoon continues” – notes that Modi is popular across demographic groups – to both men and women, and among all age groups, educational backgrounds and income levels.
The report comes amid escalating tension between India and Pakistan after 18 soldiers were killed on September 18 in a terror attack in Uri.
Indians believe their country plays a growing role on the world stage. “Roughly half are supportive of India’s burgeoning international economic engagement and are committed to their allies. At the same time, the public is wary of China and longtime rival Pakistan. They favour a militaristic stance against terrorism and support increased defense spending. But only about a quarter want their country to help other nations deal with their problems.”
These are among the main findings of a new Pew Research Center survey conducted among 2,464 respondents in India from April 7 to May 24, 2016.
It says that Modi continues to enjoy overwhelming public support. “Roughly eight-in-ten Indians (81%) have a favorable view of Modi, including 57% who express a very favorable opinion. Just 16% voice an unfavorable assessment of the former chief minister of Gujarat state. This backing has decreased slightly from the 87% of Indians who voiced a favorable opinion of Modi in 2015. But the intensity of such views has waned somewhat: The share of Indians with a very favorable view of Modi is down 11 percentage points in the last year.”
“As might be expected, 94% of BJP followers support the leader of their party. He is also seen favorably by 61% of Congress party adherents. However, partisan differences in views of Modi can be seen in the intensity of such support: 82% of BJP supporters have a very favorable view of the prime minister, while just 24% of Congress backers voice a very positive opinion.”
On Modi’s leadership style and performance, the report says that “a majority (56%) of Indians believe Modi is “someone who cares about people like me”. Men (61%) more than women (50%) say Modi understands their situation, as do those ages 18 to 34 (59%) more than those age 50 and older (51%). Not surprisingly, Indians who identify with Modi’s own party (68%) see him as more sensitive to their needs than Congress party supporters (37%).”
“About half (51%) of the Indian public believes that Modi is someone who stands up for what he believes, while 28% say he is not. About six-in-ten (62%) BJP supporters see the prime minister in this light, but only four-in-ten Congress backers agree,” it added.
The report went on to say that roughly half (49%) of the public views Modi as someone who is able to gets things done. “A third says he cannot accomplish things. Again there is a partisan divide in how people see the prime minister’s effectiveness: BJP supporters (61%) are more likely than Congress adherents (41%) to judge Modi as a can-do prime minister.”
“And 49% of Indians say Modi brings people together, while 29% believe he is divisive.”
The report stated that “about six-in-ten overall (61%) approve of Modi’s handling of terrorism. Support among those who identify with the BJP is 71%, unchanged from 2015. Backing by Congress adherents is 46%”.
“A roughly comparable segment of the Indian public as a whole (59%) voices support for the prime minister’s handling of corruption. BJP adherents are more supportive (73%) than Congress backers (38%). Notably, Modi’s support on this issue is up by 8 points among his own party faithful and down by 18 points among Congress party supporters.”
On foreign policy, the report says that Modi fares less well in public assessment of his handling of relations with other countries, despite having taken 51 trips to 42 nations since he became prime minister in 2014.
“The prime minister has made four trips to the United States since taking office. More than half (54%) of Indians approve of Modi’s dealings with Washington. Just 15% disapprove. But roughly three-in-ten (31%) voice no opinion. Notably, public approval of Modi’s handling of America is down 12 percentage points since 2015 despite his having visited the U.S. more than any other country during his premiership.”
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