Anna Hazare’s campaign for a stronger Lokpal Bill and his 12-day battle against corruption has given the Opposition, mainly the BJP, to present themselves as a party which can replace the ruling coalition at the Centre. A STAR News-Nielsen survey conducted across 28 cities with close to 9000 respondents after Anna ended his 12-day long fast – has revealed that the BJP will garner 32 % of the votes across India if Lok Sabha polls were held in the near future, while the Congress will manage to win just 20 % of votes. According to the survey, the BJP has turned out to be the most favoured party across all regions – 40:27 in the north; 20:15 in the east, and 46:15 in the west – barring the south, where 20 % respondents still prefer the Congress, while 16 % prefer the BJP.
The numbers mentioned above is in stark contrast to the ones that came out in a similar survey conducted by STAR News-Nielsen in May 2011 – before the Anna movement gripped the country’s imagination. Barely four months ago, was the Congress leading the pack with 30 % of the vote share while BJP had only 23 %. Also, except the west, the Congress was leading in all the current Lok Sabha, Congress has 207 seats and BJP has 115 seats. Anna’s movement, and the way the UPA government handled the situation, seems to have swayed a number of people who voted for Congress during last General election – around 11 % of the respondents who voted for the Congress last time now intend to vote for the BJP, while only 5 % are switching away from the BJP. Throughout Anna Hazare’s campaign, several UPA leaders, most vocally Kapil Sibal, had said that a few thousand people supporting Anna, do not represent a country of 1.2 billion.
They even challenged his team members to prove its legitimacy in the elections. But if they were to contest elections against Team Anna members tomorrow, the politicians would be in for a surprise. In a Kiran Bedi vs Kapil Sibal contest, 74 % of respondents in the STAR News-Nielsen survey would vote for the iconic former IPS officer, while Sibal would manage just 14 %. Similarly, a contest between Arvind Kejriwal and P Chidambaram would end up in a defeat for the home minister – 58 % of the respondents claim they will vote for the RTI activist while 24 % would choose Chidambaram. Interestingly, the Anna campaign has given the country a brand new youth icon. Around 62 % of the respondents feel that Arvind Kejriwal, the most vocal member has as the new role model for young India. He has significantly higher approval ratings in north (75 %). Respondents however do not lay the blame for corruption on the doors of any particular political party – a third of respondents (75 %) believe that all parties are equally responsible for corruption. Another 49 % of the respondents believe that feels that giving or accepting bribe is in the fabric of the country and it cannot be stopped by people in India. A similar number – 46 % – believe that corruption can be stopped if people unite against it.