New Delhi: A question that has vexed most minds is: Who is the most popular prime minister since Independence? If the Mood of the Nation poll conducted by India Today is to be taken at face value, PM Narendra Modi is way ahead of his predecessors.
In academic discussions, PM Modi has often been compared to Mrs Indira Gandhi and the debate is often inconclusive. But the Mood of the Nation leaves no room for doubt:
Indira Gandhi follows in the second spot while Atal Bihari Vajpayee ranks third. Modi's predecessor, Manmohan Singh is a straggler in the seventh position.
A staggering 37% of the respondents plumped for Modi; for 14%, it was a nostalgic throwback to Indira; and for 11% the Vajpayee magic never waned.
YOGI OUSTS MAMATA: The poll throws up a big surprise: Yogi Adityanath has unceremoniously removed Mamata Banerjee as the best chief minister.
Mamata, who was ranked No. 1 in the January edition of the Mood of the Nation, has lost steam and been relegated to the seventh spot.
Predictably, Bihar's Nitish Kumar trails Adityanath. A pleasant surprise, of course, is Maharashtra's Devendra Fadnavis in the third spot, followed by the inscrutable Arvind Kejriwal and Odisha's Naveen Patnaik.
ETERNAL OPTIMISTS: Even the doom day protagonists have been silenced. Such is the overweening sense of optimism that 35 per cent of respondents believe that the Modi government can "easily" achieve its aim of transforming India into a $5 trillion economy in the next five years. Another 35 per cent have put a rider: they believe it is possible but only if significant reforms are undertaken.
The cherry on the cake is that 60 per cent of the respondents rate the Modi government's economic performance as better than that of the Congress-led UPA government; 45 per cent of the respondents also said their economic status has changed for the better since Narendra Modi came to power in 2014.
ACHIVEMENTS: For 20 per cent of the respondents, a corruption-free regime has been the single biggest achievement of the Modi government.
This is followed by a crackdown on black money, demonetisation and improved infrastructure – what are often cited as the government’s bugbears by the Opposition.
A tough stand on terror and the roll out of the Goods and Services Tax regime also rank high on the list of the Modi government's achievements.
WHAT ABOUT, POOR CONGRESS? For the Congress party, there is light at the end of the tunnel and only Priyanka Gandhi Vadra can possibly turn it around.
But the long-term prognosis is radically different: 49 per cent of respondents said that only a non-Gandhi and non-dynasty young leader could revive the Congress in the long run.