The battle lines have been drawn and a semblance of possible alliances taking shape is beginning to emerge as the nation braces for another round of elections when it will choose a new government in the center less than a year from now. Who gets to rule the government for the next five years will be the biggest question as we inch closer to the Lok Sabha elections in 2024.

Will the Narendra Modi factor pervade like in the two previous general elections? Or will Rahul Gandhi spring a surprise? Is Opposition unity feasible or is it just a temporary promise feeding politics of convenience? And can Opposition parties find a consensus on leadership and seat-sharing? How big a role will regional parties play in uniting the entire Opposition? Clarity on some of these questions is beginning to emerge as the elections draw closer.

Also Read: Battleground 2024: The inherent flaw in Opposition’s mega-unity masterplan

Rahul vs Modi: Who is more popular?

Ahead of the big battle less than a year from now, a new survey has hinted at pointers on how the contest between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, the most prominent face against the ruling BJP, is shaping up. A public survey conducted by NDTV in collaboration with Lokniti-Center for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) shows there is good news for both!

As per the findings of the survey, Modi continues to be the most popular pick with 43 per cent of the respondents choosing him as their top choice as Prime Minister. The survey, conducted across 19 states between May 10 and 19, claimed that around 43 per cent of the respondents said the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance should win a third straight term, while 38 per cent responded to the contrary.

Also Read: Road to 2024: The 8 layers in Modi’s ‘Suraksha Kavach’ that Opposition must breach

Rahul Gandhi’s popularity surging

While only 27 per cent of the respondents saw him as the next Prime Minister of India, there are strong indications that the Bharat Jodo Yatra he undertook a few months ago has worked in his favour. While 26 per cent of the respondents said they had “always liked him”, 15 per cent admitted to a newfound appreciation for the Congress leader after the Bharat Jodo Yatra.

On the other hand, only 16 per cent of the respondents admitted to not liking Rahul while 27 per cent expressed their indifference towards him. As pick for the next Prime Minister, Rahul may have fallen behind Modi but clearly emerged as the most popular choice among all other faces from the Opposition by a huge margin. While 4 per cent of respondents backed Mamata Banerjee and Arvind Kejriwal as the next PM, 3 per cent picked Akhilesh Yadav and only 1 per cent voted for Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

Modi still ‘King’

The survey results further showed that PM Modi’s popularity remains unhinged despite the BJP’s loss in Karnataka where he had campaigned aggressively. As per the survey, 25 per cent of the respondents held Modi in high regard for his oratory skills, 20 per cent appreciated the PM’s focus on development as a Prime Minister.

Additionally, 13 per cent of the respondents said they admired his diligent work ethic while the same number of people were impressed by his charisma. A total of 11 per cent of the surveyed individuals expressed their fondness for Modi’s policies.

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