UPA II gets a thumbs down from urban India

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rukminJuly 26;Cities are driving the anti-UPA sentiment, while marginalised communities – the Congress’ traditional base – are more satisfied than dissatisfied with UPA-II’s performance. These findings emerge from a CNN IBN-The Hindu election tracker poll of 19,062 demographically representative respondents.

Just 38 per cent of respondents expressed satisfaction with UPA-II’s performance (with 22 per cent undecided), down from 49 per cent in 2011 (with 20 per cent undecided). The proportion of those “fully dissatisfied” with the government rose by nine percentage points over the last two years. Urban India expressed greater dissatisfaction with UPA-II than rural India, with respondents from Tier-II cities expressing the most dissatisfaction. This is consistent with the poor infrastructure and lower rates of job creation in Tier-II cities than in metros.

“The government should have come up with concrete health and employment schemes for the urban poor, the way they have for the rural poor,” said an urban planner associated with the Urban Development Ministry who asked not to be named. Such schemes were, however, even in the pipeline, the official said. “Big infrastructure projects under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission have definitely helped in the big cities, but the credit tends to go to the state government for them,” the official added.

The poor and middle class were more dissatisfied than satisfied with the government, while the rich were equally divided. While scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and Muslims expressed greater satisfaction than dissatisfaction with the government, the Congress’ vote-share from all three groups has still dropped, while it has risen for the BJP. Even so, the Congress holds a comfortable lead over the BJP when it comes to vote-share among these three groups.

Among those who expressed dissatisfaction, ‘lack of development’ was cited as the main reason for this in rural areas, while in urban areas it was ‘corruption’, a finding that has been borne out by the predominantly urban locations of anti-corruption protests. ‘Price rise’ was the second most important cause of dissatisfaction in both urban and rural areas. The UPA’s first term, during which it brought in the Right To Information Act, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and waived farm loans was seen as better than the second term.

Unsurprisingly, then, the job guarantee scheme is the government’s most heard-of scheme; 78 per cent in rural areas had heard of it and nearly 50 per cent of these had benefited from it. Among farmers, 64 per cent had heard of the loan waiver and 30 per cent of these had benefited from it, while 55 per cent of Muslims had heard of scholarship for minority students. Less than half of all respondents had even heard of the Right To Education and the Right To Information, just a third were aware of the government’s health insurance scheme.

Of the six schemes they were asked about, less than half said they had benefited from any scheme. Most worryingly, only 47 per cent of the poor had benefited from one or more schemes.

Despite the opposition’s rubbishing of the food security ordinance and direct benefits transfers, there was large support for the schemes among those who had heard of it. Over half of those who expressed an opinion on the Food Security Ordinance said that it would influence their voting decision. Aadhaar penetration was at 42per cent, with nearly two out of three with an Aadhaar card saying that it helped them access benefits.

Satisfaction ratings of state governments were higher than those of the central government in all states, with NDA-ruled states generally more satisfied than UPA-ruled states; Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Chhattisgarh had the highest satisfaction ratings, while Delhi, Andhra Pradesh and Haryana the lowest. The BJP was rated positively as an opposition party at the centre.

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