Normally, one would expect supporters across political and ideological divides not only disagree on important issues of the day, but also vehemently disagree when it comes to appreciating or disparaging the performance of the ruling regime and its ministers.
But in a surprise development, there appeared to be widespread agreement between NDA and opposition supporters when it comes to rating the performance of ministers in the cabinet of Prime Minister Narendra Modi whose second regime commenced in May 2019. This was revealed by a nationwide survey for IANS conducted by C Voter in the month of May, 2022 that included respondents from all age groups, all educational and economic backgrounds as well as ethnic identities.
Barring a few exceptions, the ministers whose performance was rated highly by the NDA supporters were also rated highly by opposition supporters. This displays the remarkable ability of the vastly underestimated and under rated Indian voter who has the maturity and wisdom to set aside political blinkers while assessing how a particular minister performed.
Out of the top 10 ranked ministers in the survey cutting across socio economic, ethnic and education backgrounds across the country, 8 out of 10 were common to the list of top ten generated by both the NDA and the opposition voters. The Union Health minister Mansukh Mandaviya does not find a place in the top 10 performers as rated by NDA supporters; but opposition supporters have placed him in the top 10.
Similarly, while Union Home Minister Amit Shah is rated as the third best performing minister by NDA supporters; opposition supporters do not find a place for him in the top 10. Barring the few exceptions, the near unanimity among NDA and opposition supporters is in direct contrast to the divisive politics we see every day in media outlets.
When it comes to Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari, their rating as the best performing ministers in the second tenure of the regime led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi cuts across class, caste and even religious categories of voters in the country.
The main reason ascribed to their high performance ratings is their perceived ability to shun divisive rhetoric even as they single minded lay focus on the mandate given to them. Despite the divisive nature of politics that India has seen in recent times, Muslim respondents in the survey ranked Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari as the top two performing ministers in the Narendra Modi-led cabinet. This is a remarkable result as it reflects that Indians have the wisdom and maturity to assess the performance of their ministers without wearing political, ideological or religious blinkers.
But delve a little deeper into the data and one can notice the class and income divides that pervade Indian society. Take the categories government and private sector job respondents. Both rate Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari as the top two. But take landless agricultural labourer and Smriti Irani is ranked second while Gadkari is not there in the top three. For land owning farmers, Rajnath and Gadkari are the top two. For upper caste Hindus, Rajnath and Gadkari are top two while Smriti Irani finds no place in the top three.
But in the SC/ST category, Irani is ranked number one. Similarly, Union Commerce minister Piyush Goyal finds no place in the top three in any category but respondents who reported a monthly income of more than Rs 100,000 ranked him as the third best minister.
Without a doubt, the IANS-CVoter survey reaffirms the existence of class and income divides in India.