NEW DELHI/PATNA: Even though there is no denying the overweening appeal of PM Narendra Modi, whose popularity surpasses that of chief minister Nitish Kumar in Bihar, the Lokniti-CSDS pre-poll survey, conducted ahead of the Bihar Assembly election, suggests that RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav is fast catching up with Nitish.
According to the opinion poll, 27 per cent respondents want a change of face and are looking at Tejashwi – often dismissed as a political greenhorn -- as the next chief minister. As against this, 31 per cent respondents said they want Nitish Kumar to continue at the helm.
So, even as Nitish Kumar maintains a slender lead, it is apparent that the law of diminishing returns has set in for the chief minister.
What may cause the JDU-BJP alliance some concern is that if one factors into political dynamics the popularity of Tejashwi’s father Lalu Prasad, the gap between the ratings of Nitish and the Lalu Yadav family narrows down to just 1%.
However, the popularity of PM Modi’s government will remain an inhibiting factor for the RJD-Congress mahagathbandhan. This is because the PM Modi-led dispensation at the Centre has a 61 per cent satisfaction rating despite the Covid-19 lockdown-induced migrant crisis and the persisting economic slowdown.
It is clear that PM Modi’s halo has not dimmed and hovers overhead like an invisible force that seems to determine voter choice.
However, the India Today news portal, which has published the findings of the survey, says there is an interesting aspect to the evolving situation. In a post-assembly polls survey in 2015, 72 per cent voters were “satisfied” with the Modi government at the Centre. That percentage increased to 76 per cent in post-Lok Sabha polls survey. This time, in the pre-assembly polls survey, the share has declined to 61 per cent.
So, all is not what seems in Bihar.