Six crucial questions involving Narendra Modi

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Bangalore, Sept 19: Times Now on Thursday reported about a survey conducted over six questions related to Narendra Modi, the BJP's prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. The survey was conducted among 5,500 people, the report said.

The first question is: Should the Congress project a prime ministerial candidate after the BJP declared Modi as its face for the 2014 polls? While 55 per cent said yes, 26 per cent said no and 19 per cent people couldn't give an answer.

The question is pertinent. The Congress had been attacking the BJP and Modi over the communal question, daring the opposition party to name the latter as its face for the Lok Sabha elections. But now, with the BJP withstanding all dissent, both external and internal, and going ahead with its decision on Modi, the ball is in the Congress's court. The party will be requiring a face for the prestigious battle and perhaps kept it for far too late. The 55 per cent respondents expect that the party comes out with some definite answer to the challenge in hand.

This makes the second question very important and it is: Who should be the Congress's man for the prime ministerial post? Rahul Gandhi gets the most number of votes (42%) while Sonia Gandhi gets 15 per cent and incumbent Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gets a paltry nine per cent support. Priyanka Gandhi, daughter of Sonia Gandhi and sister of Rahul Gandhi, gets four per cent support.

The Congress will require a clear face to take on Narendra Modi

This raises two concerns. First, the over-dependence on the Gandhis in this era of speedy deepening of democracy and the utterly disappointing support for Manmohan Singh. In terms of administration, Manmohan Singh is the best alternative that the Congress could have vis-a-vis Modi (Manmohan is in office for nine years against Modi's 12 years) but his forgettable legacy has left a big vacuum in the Congress. Sheila Dikshit is another leader that the Congress could look for but neither her age is on her side and also there is considerable challenge to her regime in Delhi this time, thanks to the rise of the Aam Aadmi Party.

The third question is: What is Narendra Modi more associated with? While 69 per cent preferred to associate the leader with development, only 15 per cent spoke about the 2002 riots as something more identifiable with Modi. Sixteen per cent could give any answer. This is also an important revelation. Has the coronation of Modi proved counterproductive for the 'secular' forces? The BJP and the Sangh Parivar might have taken a crucial decision at the perfect moment and more dilly-dallying would have made Modi's detractors all the more vocal, leaving a nagative effect on the voters' mind. The decision to anoint Modi at a time when the Muzaffarnagar riots spelled disaster for the so-called secular parties have also worked in his favour.

The fourth question is: Will the next big poll be fought on personality or issue? While 27 per cent said personality, 43 per cent said issues and 13 per cent said both. The country is seeing an election being fought on personality and issues after a gap, which makes the 2014 elections all the more interesting. Now it is to be seen whether the UPA, plagued by anti-incumbency and lack of a clear leadership, can match the Modi challenge. Here again, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh needed to lead his party from the front but surprisingly, he expressed his willingness to work under rahul Gandhi's leadership at a time when his government and party required a strong leadership up front.

The fifth question is: Will Modi lead to communal polarisation in this election? While 49 per cent thought he will, 38 per cent said he won't. Communal polarisation will be a big headache for the secular parties for it will shrink their shares in the vote market. For the BJP, communal polarisation isn't a threat. Moreover, the 39 per cent of the respondents who feel that Modi won't polarise actually endorse his unifying role. So for the Modi detractors, it is an ominous sign either way.

The final question is: Will Modi be able to take the BJP past 200 seats? The voting to this question has been close. While 43 per cent feels he will, 41 per cent feels he won't and 16 per cent chooses to be neutral.

No doubt Modi will have an immense difficulty in getting his team past the double-hundred mark but his supporters can yet feel that it is possible, given the massive wave blowing across the nation and the disarray that the Congress has found itself in. The regional parties will be crucial and the way a few regional parties have already started showing interest in Modi (read KJP and TDP), it is too early to arrive at any conclusion.

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