As the country grapples with the devastation brought upon by the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s approval ratings have fallen to a new low, two new surveys showed, according to a report in Reuters.
Modi, who swept to power in 2014 and was re-elected in 2019 with the biggest majority of any Indian politician in three decades, has long fostered the image of a powerful nationalist leader.
However, as India's Covid caseload surged past the 25 million mark, the PM's overall rating fell to 63 per cent, the lowest ever according to US data intelligence company Morning Consult, which has been tracking his popularity, Reuters reported. The big decline happened in April when his net approval dropped 22 points.
The Reuters report also stated that another survey by India's CVOTER found the number of respondents "very much satisfied" with Modi's performance had dropped to 37 per cent from around 65 per cent a year ago.
For the first time in seven years, respondents expressing dissatisfaction with the Modi government's performance outnumbered those satisfied with it, CVOTER data shows.
As per the report in Reuters, the sharp fall in popularity comes as the pandemic appeared to be overwhelming large urban centres such as Delhi, where hospitals ran out of beds and life-saving oxygen. Bodies piled up in morgues and crematoriums and anger grew on social media over the suffering and perceived lack of government support.
The situation has since eased in Delhi and Mumbai as cases have fallen but the virus has penetrated deep into India's vast hinterland where public health facilities are weaker.
Despite the slide in his approval ratings, Modi remains the country's most popular politician, with the opposition unable to capitalise on the government's bungled response to the pandemic, CVOTER data shows.
Prime Minister Modi does not face a national election until 2024.