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South hails Rahul Baba while West sings NaMo raga

The Modi government’s tepid response to the recent floods in Kerala is said to dent his image further in the southern region

 

It can’t really be called the clash of the titans.. But when the country’s two most talked about politicians are caught in a pitched battle, one may just be tempted to call it that.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi have their eyes set on each other – to mock, to confront, to castigate. Both, however, have been at the opposite ends of the spectrum. While one has been leading the country with a huge mandate, the other has been struggling to make his presence felt. Yet, in an interesting turn of events, the BJP supremo is now facing a slight dip in his popularity, while the Congress chief is seeing an upswing in his.

This was revealed by the over 55000 responses received by Piplsay in its survey to check the prevailing sentiment in the run-up to the crucial 2019 polls. The survey was taken by people across diverse age groups in over 25 states across the country.

Brand Modi vs Brand Rahul

Over four years since he assumed power, Brand Modi continues to prevail although a sizeable number of people increasingly believe that the support the PM once commanded is on a decline. On the other hand, over 4 out of every 10 Indian across all four regions believe that Rahul Gandhi has been displaying political acumen with each passing day.

Even across age groups, nearly 50% people in the 18-44 age bracket seem to be impressed with Rahul Gandhi’s new found aggression

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This may be to do with the fact that Rahul Gandhi, post his elevation as the Congress President has been able to steer the Congress to two impressive election results, first in Gurajat and then in Karnataka.

South India, in particular, seems to be most convinced about Modi’s waning popularity while being more accepting of Rahul Gandhi

Among the factors that seem to have contributed to both Modi and BJP’s loss of face –  lack of jobs, economic slowdown and rising communal incidents top the list across most regions. It’s however interesting to note that both South and West India seem most perturbed about PM Modi’s stoic silence on issues of national importance.

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This just goes to show that people are increasingly getting disappointed in the leader who chooses to be unresponsive at a time when the entire country is looking for assurances and action. For Rahul Gandhi though, Modi’s silence has become his biggest weapon, something he repeatedly uses to question Modi’s ideology and integrity.

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Rahul and the United Opposition

The shared dislike for Modi has managed to bring together friends and foes across the political spectrum. The show of strength at Kumaraswamy’s swearing-in this year resulted in a splendid photo op with about a dozen opposition parties showing rare bonhomie. It even brought together erstwhile rivals SP and BSP causing much anxiety for the BJP in a state as crucial as Uttar Pradesh. Add to that the various by-poll results this year which have given a huge boost to this emerging coalition where the Congress has played a lead role.

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Still, it will not be an easy walk for them. Not only is BJP better placed to take on the united opposition in most of the states, it is also working hard at putting together a larger coalition before the general election. Not forgetting the fact that there will never be a tussle over its PM candidate unlike that in the United Opposition.

Though about half the people surveyed doubt the Congress scion’s ability to lead the coalition, an almost equal number doesn’t seem to discount this possibility either

It is often said that politics makes strange bedfellows. We are already seeing this unfolding as we draw closer to the general elections. Modi and Rahul Gandhi may be fighting it out at the forefront, but it’s the old heavyweights that they will be leaning on the most. The upcoming elections in Rajasthan, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana will be an acid test for both these leaders and will determine the attitude with which they will enter the 2019 polls.

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For now, though, the Piplsay survey clearly points to the shifting dynamics – where one man’s loss is another man’s gain. The winds of change have slowly begun to blow. The question is, will it last long enough for the results to show?

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