Unemployment and inflation are the main concerns of Indian voters but Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s strong leadership, his party’s Hindu nationalist agenda and India’s rising global stature will likely help his re-election bid, a survey shows.
The findings illustrate that benefits of India’s world beating growth are not evenly spread for its 1.4bn people as the creation of jobs, despite Modi’s domestic manufacturing push over the last 10 years, is still a challenge.
India starts voting in a seven-phase general election on April 19 that Modi is expected to win easily. Votes will be counted on June 4.
Unemployment was the primary concern of 27% of the 10,000 voters surveyed by Lokniti-CSDS across 19 of India’s 28 states, with rising prices coming second at 23%, the Hindu newspaper said.
India is the world’s fastest growing major economy and its fifth-largest. But nearly two thirds, or 62% of those surveyed, said finding jobs had become more difficult in the last five years - Modi’s second term as prime minister.
The unemployment rate rose to 5.4% in 2022-23, from 4.9% in 2013-14 just before Modi swept to power, and nearly 16% of urban youth in the 15-29 years age group remained unemployed in 2022-23 due to poor skills and a lack of quality jobs, official data shows.
Although 22% said “the most liked action” of Modi’s government was the construction of a temple on a site that was contested by Muslims, only 8% said it was their primary concern.
Modi supervised the consecration of the Ram temple in January, a move increasingly used Modi on Friday attacked the main opposition Congress party for refusing the invitation to the temple inauguration.
Congress had refused to attend the inauguration, saying it had been converted into a “political project” of the BJP “for electoral gain”. At least 48% respondents said the temple would consolidate a Hindu identity, but a huge majority (79%) said India belonged to citizens of all religions equally, not just Hindus.
Voters were also drawn by the growing international standing of India, with highly publicised events such as India’s presidency of the G20 bloc last year, and New Delhi hosting the G20 leaders in September.
About 8% of the survey’s respondents said they liked the government’s push to create a better international image of India.
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