Dailybhaskar.com | Last Modified - Sep 04, 2011, 02:38 PM IST
New Delhi: Anna Hazare's campaign for a stronger Lokpal Bill and his 12-day battle against corruption has given the Opposition, mainly the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), to present themselves as a party which can replace the ruling coalition at the Centre.
A STAR News-Nielsen survey conducted across 28 cities with close to 9000 respondents after Anna ended his 12-day long fast – has revealed that the BJP will garner 32 per cent of the votes across India if Lok Sabha polls were held in the near future, while the Congress will manage to win just 20 per cent of votes.
According to the survey, the BJP has turned out to be the most favoured party across all regions – 40:27 in the north; 20:15 in the east, and 46:15 in the west – barring the south, where 20 per cent respondents still prefer the Congress, while 16 per cent prefer the BJP.
The numbers mentioned above is in stark contrast to the ones that came out in a similar survey conducted by STAR News-Nielsen in May 2011 – before the Anna movement gripped the country’s imagination. Barely four months ago, was the Congress leading the pack with 30 per cent of the vote share while BJP had only 23 per cent. Also, except the west, the Congress was leading in all zones.
In the current Lok Sabha, Congress has 207 seats and BJP has 115 seats.
Anna’s movement, and the way the UPA government handled the situation, seems to have swayed a number of people who voted for Congress during last General election – around 11 per cent of the respondents who voted for the Congress last time now intend to vote for the BJP, while only 5 per cent are switching away from the BJP.
Ministers, not Manmohan to be blamed:
A majority believe that the government misread the situation and bungled by arresting the Gandhian on the morning of August 16. Around 54 per cent of the respondents said that the situation was poorly handled by Congress. The respondents, however, absolved Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of the blame — 64 per cent said that his senior misters of the UPA regime were responsible for the poor handling of this situation. A majority – 54 per cent – also believe that even Sonia Gandhi wouldn't have been able to handle the situation better.
Not the right time for Rahul:
Even Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi seems to have hit the wrong note with the masses, with 54 per cent of the respondents saying that this is not the right time for Rahul Gandhi to take over as the Prime Minister of the country. If Anna Hazare and Rahul were to face-off in an election tomorrow, 78 per cent of the respondents would vote for the activist, while only 17 per cent would pick Rahul Gandhi over him. Surprisingly, even the youth respondents aged 18-25 prefer Anna over Rahul.
Team Anna in the Parliament!
Throughout Anna Hazare’s campaign, several UPA leaders, most vocally Kapil Sibal, had said that a few thousand people supporting Anna, do not represent a country of 1.2 billion. They even challenged his team members to prove its legitimacy in the elections. But if they were to contest elections against Team Anna members tomorrow, the politicians would be in for a surprise.
In a Kiran Bedi vs Kapil Sibal contest, 74 per cent of respondents in the STAR News-Nielsen survey would vote for the iconic former IPS officer, while Sibal would manage just 14 per cent. Similarly, a contest between Arvind Kejriwal and P Chidambaram would end up in a defeat for the home minister — 58 per cent of the respondents claim they will vote for the RTI activist while 24 per cent would choose Chidambaram.
Interestingly, the Anna campaign has given the country a brand new youth icon. Around 62 per cent of the respondents feel that Arvind Kejriwal, the most vocal member has as the new role model for young India. He has significantly higher approval ratings in north (75 per cent).
Annarchy or anarchy?
Anna’s methods for getting the Jan Lokpal Bill passed drew criticism from various quarters — some said it was against our Constitution, while others accused him of being extremely rigid with his demands. However, the respondents in the STAR News-Nielsen survey have shown an overwhelming support for Anna’s stand, with a staggering 82 per cent saying that the Gandhian’s way of protesting – fast until death if his demands are not accepted – was the right way to force the government. Only 12 per cent disagreed with Anna’s methods, saying that he was blackmailing the government.
Craft of graft
A majority of the people surveyed also believe that the passage Lokpal Bill would be a major milestone in India’s battle against graft. Around 56 per cent of the respondents believe that believe that the government must not dither and pass the Bill immediately and amendments required can be made through subsequent Bills. Also, 53 per cent of the respondents believe that a strong and potent Lokpal Bill would make India a corruption-free country in the next five years. Around 40 per cent said Lokpal wouldn’t do much to end graft.
Respondents however do not lay the blame for corruption on the doors of any particular political party — a third of respondents (75 per cent) believe that all parties are equally responsible for corruption. Another 49 per cent of the respondents believe that feels that giving or accepting bribe is in the fabric of the country and it cannot be stopped by people in India. A similar number — 46 per cent — believe that corruption can be stopped if people unite against it.