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Can PM Modi's Popularity Withstand a Third COVID Wave? Here's What Surveys Say

57 percent people say that public negligence and not the government will be to blame if there's a third wave.

Updated
Politics
3 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in an address, on Monday, 7 June, announced centralisation of the COVID-19 vaccine drive.</p></div>
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If survey data is to be believed, the Narendra Modi government may not suffer much on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, despite facing widespread criticism over its handling of the crisis.

There are three questions that matter here:

1. Do the people hold the Modi government responsible for the COVID-19 situation in the country?

2. Has PM Modi's popularity suffered as a result of the pandemic?

3. Are people satisfied with aspects like vaccinations or oxygen supply?

Let's look at these one by one.

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DO PEOPLE HOLD MODI GOVERNMENT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE COVID MESS?

According to a latest snap poll by CVoter, a majority of voters said that in case there is a third COVID-19 wave, it would be the public and not the government that would be to blame.

In the poll, which was conducted on 9 July, the respondents were asked, "If there is a third wave of Corona in the country, who will you hold responsible for it – the government or violation of Corona rules by the public?"

57 percent respondents said that they would blame violation of rules by the public while 34 percent said they would blame the government.

Though the snap poll has a limited sample size of 1,815, it does give an indication that there are limits to which the people are blaming the government over COVID. This is further strengthened by survey data on PM Modi's popularity.

HAS PM MODI'S POPULARITY SUFFERED DUE TO THE PANDEMIC?

The Quint had earlier reported how PM Modi's approval ratings had dipped sharply during the second wave of COVID-19. We also explained how the fall was caused not so much by the wave itself but due to PM Modi campaigning in Bengal, that created a perception of apathy.

According to Morning Consult's global leader approval tracker, PM Modi's approval ratings have recovered slightly from the fall that had taken place in April-May.

The lowest point for PM Modi was around the second week of May – when his net approval was at 32 points. It has now risen to 43 points as of July first week. It is still less than pre-second wave levels, in which PM Modi's approval ratings was above 55 points.

This indicates a mixed bag for the government – while the fall in PM Modi's popularity has not just stopped but reversed, it is still far from pre-COVID levels.

It is highly unlikely that the government would be completely able to negate the COVID factor. A poll by CVoter in the last week of May showed that 41.1 percent people considered COVID-19 as Modi's biggest failure as PM.

Interestingly, in the 9 July CVoter snap poll, a majority of respondents said that former health minister Harsh Vardhan is being made a scapegoat by the government.

The people were asked, "Dr Harsh Vardhan has been removed as health minister. Do you think he alone is responsible for the hardships faced by people during the pandemic or is he being made a scapegoat?"

54 percent respondents said that "he is being made a scapegoat" while 29 percent said that "he alone is responsible."

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ARE PEOPLE SATISFIED WITH VACCINATION AND OXYGEN SUPPLY?

The CVoter snap poll indicates that people are still dissatisfied on issues like vaccinations and oxygen supply.

On being asked if they are able to get the first or second dose of vaccinations easily, 47 percent said that they are facing difficulties and that there is a long waiting list for vaccinations. On the other hand 42 percent said that vaccination doses are easily available.

The respondents were asked their opinion on the "government's decision to establish medical oxygen generation in every district."

51 percent respondents said that the government has taken the decision late while 38 percent said that the decision was taken at the right time.

THE BIG PICTURE

It seems that the COVID-19 surge has no doubt affected PM Modi's popularity, as is evident from the fall in his approval ratings in April-May and the data point that 41.1 percent people consider it as his biggest failure.

However, it is also clear that there are limits to the political harm that the pandemic has caused the PM, which is clear from the revival in his approval ratings.

It appears that while people do admit facing difficulties, they aren't quite holding the government responsible.

The political decisions seem to be harming the government more, which was clear in the manner in which the PM's popularity fell when he was addressing rallies in Bengal while the pandemic was raging across the country.

A similar case is the sacking of Harsh Vardhan, it appears the people have seen through the politics behind the move, with a majority considering him a scapegoat.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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