More than three-fifths of Indian voters favour the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party in the upcoming general elections as against less than one-fifth for the ruling Congress, a major American survey released on Wednesday said.
"With the Indian parliamentary elections just weeks away, the Indian public, by a margin of more than three-to-one, would prefer the Hindu-nationalist opposition Bharatiya Janata Party to lead the next Indian government rather than the Indian National Congress, which heads the current left-of-centre governing coalition," Pew Research said.
While the survey in which BJP is preferred by 63 per cent of the respondents against 19 per cent for the ruling Congress does not project the number of seats the two parties would get in the polls, Pew said Narendra Modi, the BJP's prime ministerial candidate, is more popular than the putative Congress candidate Rahul Gandhi.
The Pew Research Centre survey was conducted between December 7, 2013 and January 12, 2014, and included face-to-face interviews with 2,464 randomly selected adults, in states and territories that are home to roughly 91 per cent of the Indian population.
The margin of error is 3.8 per cent.
According to the survey, just 29 per cent of Indians are satisfied with the way things are going in India today; 70 per cent are dissatisfied.
More than six-in-ten Indians (63 per cent) prefer the BJP to lead the next Indian national government. Just two-in-ten (19 per cent) pick the Congress. Other parties have the support of 12 per cent of the public.
BJP backing is consistent across age groups.
Support is almost equal between rural (64 per cent) and urban (60 per cent) Indians.
"More than six-in-ten Indians (63 per cent) prefer the BJP to lead the next Indian national government. Just two-in-ten (19 per cent) pick the Indian National Congress. Other parties have the support of 12 per cent of the public. BJP backing is consistent across age groups. And support is almost equal between rural (64 per cent) and urban (60 per cent) Indians," the survey said.
Northern states -- Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab and Delhi -- which together are home to more than 400 million people, give the BJP its highest level of support, with 74 per cent saying they want it to lead the next government.
"The party's weakest backing (54 per cent) is in the western states of Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat (led by Modi as chief minister). Congress' strongest regional support (30 per cent) is in the eastern states of Odisha, Bihar, West Bengal and Jharkhand, among India's poorest areas and home to 270 million people," Pew said.
A majority says the BJP (58 per cent) is likely to be more successful than the Congress (20 per cent) in creating employment opportunities in the future.
"A similar proportion of the Indian public (56 per cent) say BJP would do a better job than Congress (20 per cent) in reducing terrorism. There is equal belief (56 per cent) that the BJP will do more to combat corruption. Only 17 per cent say Congress would do a better job dealing with this issue," Pew said.