Modi may not take the fall for rising unemployment in India, latest opinion poll shows

  • Times NOW-VMR opinion poll released on March 18 pegs unemployment as the biggest concern for over 40% of the voters surveyed

  • Loan waivers and sops for farmers followed unemployment as the most defining issue

  • Construction of the Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya and cow protection were the other pressing issues

  • The poll predicts that the incumbent National Democratic Alliance (NDA) will win 283 seats.
The latest opinion poll released by Times NOW and VMR on March 18 (Monday) has a bittersweet message for political parties across the spectrum.

Unemployment has emerged as the biggest issue for the upcoming elections, with over 40.2% of the voters concerned about it.



This may seem like a setback for the incumbent Narendra Modi government seeking re-election this year but there may be a silver lining for the supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Just as many people--about 40% of those surveyed--feel that the job opportunities have actually improved.

Only 24% of the voters feel that job losses may be worse than what is said about it, and the government data is not accurate.



In what may be telling picture of voter polarisation, nearly 18% voters rather gave weight to the prospects of building a Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya, a case that is pending at Supreme Court, which has sought to resolve the matter through mediation.

What is worse for the Modi’s rivals, some of the other issues raised by the challengers like the alleged corruption in the procurement of Rafale fighter jets from French company Dassault has very little resonance among the voters. Less than 3% of the voters surveyed cared for it. More voters worried about cow protection.

The Indian National Congress, led by Rahul Gandhi, has tried to capitalise on the recent controversies around unemployment data. Evidently, it has failed to make a reasonable dent on the government's image.

In January 2019, a leaked report from the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) alleged that unemployment may be at a 45-year high and the government had stalled the release of the report fearing the damning impact it may have on its electoral fortunes.

While the government disputed the NSSO data, a report from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy released in January said nearly 11 million people lost jobs in 2018, a finding that corroborated the concerns about unemployment.

Somehow, none of this seems to be affecting the image of the incumbent government led by Narendra Modi.

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