PM Modi Least Liked In South & Punjab, Popularity Just 2.2% In TN

Huge state variation in Modi’s popularity: 74% in Jharkhand, 68.3% in Rajasthan but just 2.2% in TN, 7.7% in Kerala.

3 min read

Almost all of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visits to south India, particularly Tamil Nadu, have been marked by slogans of “Modi Go Back” by local groups as well as on social media. If survey data is to be believed, the protests may well represent a broader phenomenon: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s deep unpopularity in the south.

According to data collected by C-Voter from over 60,000 voters in all 543 Lok Sabha seats over the last three months, the dissatisfaction with Modi is the deepest in the southern states and Punjab while his popularity is the highest in Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Goa and Haryana, where 74 percent, 68.3 percent, 66 percent and 65.9 percent voters respectively say that they are satisfied with his performance as prime minister.

According to the C-Voter survey, Modi is the most unpopular in Tamil Nadu with just 2.2 percent respondents saying that they are satisfied with his performance.

Given Modi’s low approval rating in the southern state, it isn’t surprising that the BJP has chosen to contest the Lok Sabha elections as a junior partner of the ruling AIADMK. However, it is possible that the BJP and the AIADMK are both reinforcing each other’s unpopularity in Tamil Nadu.


What has also contributed to Modi’s unpopularity in Tamil Nadu is the perception that he represents pro-Hindi and pro-Brahmanical forces that are opposed to Dravidian nationalism. On a number of issues – be it the Cauvery dispute or the Jallikattu protests – the perception is that Modi took a position that went against Tamil Nadu.

Dissatisfaction with Modi is high in neighbouring Kerala as well, with just 7.7 percent people saying that they are satisfied with his performance. In the Union Territory of Puducherry, the figure is just 10.7 percent while in Andhra Pradesh it is 23.6 percent. He fares marginally better in Telangana and Karnataka at 37.7 percent and 38.4 percent respectively but even this is much lower compared to the national average. In contrast to PM Modi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi has consistently had a better approval rating in south India.

Punjab an Outlier in North India

In north India, Modi is most disliked in Punjab, according to the C-Voter survey, with just 12 percent voters saying that they are satisfied with his performance.

Under Modi’s leadership, the BJP has consistently done badly in the Sikh-majority state. In fact, Punjab was the first state that the Congress managed to win on its own ever since it was drubbed in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

However, the good news for BJP is that over 60 percent voters are satisfied with PM Modi in three Hindi heartland states that BJP lost in the Assembly elections in December last year: Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, indicating that the party’s fortunes could improve in these states in the Lok Sabha polls.

There are two common trends that emerge: Modi’s popularity is low in states where Hindi is not the main language and where the BJP is organisationally weak.

The only exception to this pattern is Odisha where the BJP is emerging as a vocal Opposition to the ruling Biju Janata Dal. Here 62.5 percent voters said they are satisfied with his performance as PM.

While the low approval rating for Modi in the south and Punjab isn’t surprising, what would come as a shock to the BJP is the PM’s below par rating in the crucial Hindi heartland state of Uttar Pradesh. Only 43.9 percent voters in UP said that they are satisfied with PM Modi’s performance. This despite the fact that he is an MP from the state, having been elected from Varanasi in 2014.

Even in West Bengal, where the BJP is hoping to make major gains in the Lok Sabha elections, only 43.2 percent voters said they are satisfied with Modi’s performance.

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