An opinion poll published this morning by Mumbai’s DNA daily newspaper shows a majority of respondents in the city favouring Narendra Modi, the controversial Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief minister of Gujarat, as most likely “to provide the kind of leadership required to bring about real change” following last week’s terror attacks in the city. (To find the DNA survey report – see pic below – click here and search Archive for Dec 5)
Nationally Sonia Gandhi, the leader of the Congress Party and of the governing coalition, came out tops with 23% of the vote, closely followed by prime minister Manmohan Singh with 22%, L.K.Advani, the BJP’s national leader at 18%, and Modi with just 14%.
But the result was reversed in Mumbai. There Modi led with a dramatic 47% while Advani, Singh, and Gandhi got 10-13% each.
This is significant because it shows the views of the educated middle class of the city that has been hit most often by terror attacks in recent years, culminating in last week’s commando-style invasion of the Taj and Oberoi hotels, a Jewish centre, and other targets.
As I suggested in a post on December 3, there is a demand across the country for new strong leadership. If the current national leaders do not perform, it is quite possible that the country will turn to the BJP in next year’s general election. Many will then want Modi – a powerful orator and capable administrator – to provide a nationalist hard-line lead.
Such a development would of course be opposed across the political spectrum – including by some BJP leaders – because of Modi’s arch Hindu-nationalist leanings and his record over Gujarat’s Godhra massacre six years ago. He would therefore have great difficulty stitching together a coalition with regional parties .
But the Mumbai vote, in an opinion poll conducted for DNA by IMRS Advisory, a market research firm, cannot be ignored. It is a warning to more moderate leaders to change or risk being swept aside.
• I was on America’s National Public Radio on December 3 answering questions about the events of the past week – you can find it on http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=97750541