India’s biggest metropolises are eagerly looking forward to the Aam Aadmi Party going national and expect it to make a big splash in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, but a majority still view Narendra Modi as a better prime ministerial prospect than Arvind Kejriwal with Rahul Gandhi a distant third.
That’s the message from an opinion poll across the country’s eight most populous cities — Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune and Ahmedabad — conducted exclusively for TOI by market research agency IPSOS.
The survey found that a third of the respondents thought AAP would win between 26 and 50 seats, another 26% felt it could win 51-100 seats, 11% said it would bag more than 100 and 5% even predicted a majority for the party. Put together, that means three-fourths of all those polled believe AAP will win more seats in 2014 than any party, barring what Congress and BJP won in 2009.
Given that 44% of those polled said they would vote for an AAP candidate if there was one in their constituency, and another 27% said they might, depending on the candidate, it is not difficult to see why the respondents rate AAP’s electoral prospects so high.
As for prime ministerial preferences, 58% picked Modi, 25% were for Kejriwal — despite AAP making it clear he is not in the running — and only 14% thought Rahul Gandhi would make the best PM. In Chennai and Mumbai, Kejriwal was preferred over Modi, and even in Modi’s home turf, Ahmedabad, 31% thought Kejriwal was the best choice.
Respondents were divided on which party would be worst hit by AAP doing well. A little less than a third said BJP would be worst hit, about a quarter said Congress would bear the brunt and a similar proportion said both the national parties would suffer equally. Interestingly, in Chennai, where politics is dominated by two regional parties, 44% felt regional parties would be worst hit.
What’s driving this bullish reading of AAP’s prospects? The answers to two questions in the survey give us the answer. The first of these shows that 50% feel AAP is not only very different from other parties, it will stay that way and another 24% feel it is forcing others too to modify their politics. A sizeable 26%, however, felt that AAP is different now, but it might find it difficult to sustain this.
Asked what they find most appealing about the new party, 40% cited its “sincere efforts” at addressing issues of ordinary people, another 35% said it is full of honest people who would root out corruption and 24% said the fact that it was involving people in decision making was its best aspect.
That 44% said AAP would help in at least reducing corruption and another 29% felt it would be able to completely eliminate it, says a lot about how positively the party is currently being viewed in India’s biggest cities.