By Dr. Vishnu Bisram (in India)
Modi’s five years term as Prime Minister has almost come to an end. And it has been a good innings though the mission of transforming India has a long journey to go. He is seeking re-election to another five year term.
Opinion polls suggest it is an uphill battle. Surveys carried out by this writer in selected strongholds of Modi in Mumbai, Delhi, and parts of Uttar Pradesh suggest he will carry them. However, in many other areas, pollsters suggest he will be crushed. Voting began on April 11. There are seven phases of voting. Three phases are complete. Exit polls are not allowed until the final phase on May 18. Thus, there is no hint on a projected outcome. Counting of ballots will take place on May 23. Modi will win the most seats though not a majority.
Modi’s mission of transforming India is unfinished. There is much more to be done in India. Clearly, one term is not enough to transform a country or leave behind an institutionalized legacy of change especially in reforming India’s massive bureaucracy and curtailing corruption in order to change behavioral attitude and attract foreign investment. Modi needs a second term and voters seem favorable although it is too early to tell whether he will get a majority.
According to polls, Modi’s party will win the most seats but fall short of a majority. Pollsters predict a hung parliament. Of 200 voters interviewed at random in India in January 2019 by this writer, 71% preferred Modi, as compared with 12% for Rahul Gandhi, as PM. In January 2019, 44% of the voters feel Modi will be re-elected. In March, after Modi ordered surgical strikes against terror groups inside Pakistan, the number went up to 46% among 100 voters interviewed at random. Among Indian diaspora delegates at PBD 2019, 76% felt Modi will be re-elected. Almost everyone in the diaspora that supported Modi in 2013/14 has remained committed to supporting him for another term. In a recent survey (January/February 2019) conducted by Dr. Bisram of 120 members of the diaspora in New York, asked if they feel Modi should be given a second term to continue the reform he started in India, 95% said yes. The diaspora feels that the other political choices in India are not viable alternatives.
In the diaspora, Modi still enjoys strong support over other potential candidates for PM. The Caribbean Indian diaspora has been keenly following the elections and overwhelmingly wants Modi-ji to be re-elected for another term. The Indo-Guyanese and Trinidadian diaspora in conversations with this writer pin their hope on Modi-ji to help guarantee free and fair elections in the countries where they live and address racial discrimination. They say he has brought prestige and respect to India and add to pride of diaspora about their (ancestral) homeland. In April 2019, in a survey of 70 Indians in the Caribbean interviewed at random, Modi leads Rahul Gandhi 84% to 6% as the preferred choice for PM. In a similar survey of 60 Indians interviewed in the greater New York area, in April 2019, 86% feel Modi deserves re-election. Clearly, the diaspora commits to supporting Modi for another term.
One Indian voter, Gopichand Sanduja of Delhi, who is a committed and dedicated Modi fan, had placed full faith in Modi to make India into a more powerful nation. Gopichand has been a Modi defender. His view of Modi aptly reflects that of every Indian who voted for Modi and the BJP in 2014. Gopichand is not equivocal at all in saying that Indian voters did right by giving Modi the absolute majority in 2014 so that he does not have to be held ransom by any of the allies to push India forward on the world map. He feels Modi deserve another majority in this election. During the 2014 election campaign, Gopichand, like so many other Indian voters, said India needed a powerful leader with a strong vision and someone who can provide good governance. And polls suggested Modi has not been corrupt. Gopichand, like so many others with who I interacted during the 2014 campaign and right after, stated Modi would be a much better leader than Manmohan Singh. And the polls conducted by this writer suggested he was more highly rated than Manmohan. He is more favorable than Rahul Gandhi. In 2014, voters told this writer that they wanted to see the moribund economy kick-start.
Modi has seen to that with India experiencing spectacular growth rates. Most people I spoke with during the 2014 election campaign said corruption and the stifling bureaucracy were holding the country back. Modi took direct action on both scores – approving all substantive appointments and major government contracts. He has had no tolerance for wasteful expenditure and or corrupt officials. He tamed the bureaucracy. Under Modi, there has not been any scandal or corruption scams unlike under the previous regime when there were countless corruption scams. As Gopichand said, “Modi has been resolute, assertive and made firm decisions” – the kind of leadership he feels need to be continued.
Those who supported Modi in 2014 would like to see him get another term in 2019 to fulfill his mission. They feel he will remain a strong, non-corruptible leader.
The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the position or policy of the THE WEST INDIAN.