Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity remains strong despite his party’s loss in a crucial state election, but his main rival Rahul Gandhi is also gaining ground, indicating the opposition could gather momentum ahead of the 2024 national election.
Modi remains the top choice for prime minister and his Bharatiya Janata Party’s vote share remains steady, according to a survey by broadcaster New Delhi Television Ltd. in partnership with the Lokniti-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies research group.
If national elections were held right now, 43% of those polled said Modi would be their choice. Gandhi was his main competitor, with 27% favoring him for the top job.
Despite losing the state of Karnataka earlier this month, 43% of the respondents said a BJP-led coalition would return to power in next year’s national vote. Only 29% said Gandhi’s Congress party would win. Modi’s ruling party’s vote share has also seen a slight uptick — increasing to 39% in 2023 from 37% in 2019 when it swept to power for a second term.
However, the Congress’s vote share showed a bigger jump to 29% this year from 19% in 2019, the survey showed.
Gandhi’s growing popularity is an indication the scion of India’s Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty could emerge as a challenger to Modi after suffering back-to-back defeats in the last two national elections. The Congress’s rare win in Karnataka was a morale booster for the main opposition group.
Still, Gandhi will need to show his winning capability in five important state elections that will take place in December.