Home / News / India /  Indians no closer to finding a viable Opposition

With just over a year to go for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, Indians remain divided on the question of a viable alternative to the seemingly invincible Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the national level. Even Congress supporters are not strongly convinced that their preferred party can offer a viable Opposition, with the ambitious Bharat Jodo Yatra doing little to move the needle, showed the latest YouGov-Mint-CPR Millennial Survey.

Around 28% of the 9,698 urban Indian respondents to the survey were of the view that India needed a new national alternative such as the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to challenge the ruling BJP. This share was down from 31% in a similar survey held six months prior. Just 22% would bet on a revitalized Congress, up from 20% (see chart 1). The period since the previous survey has seen Mallikarjun Kharge being elected as the first non-Gandhi Congress president in over two decades, apart from the party’s south-to-north march.

Around 17% saw hope in a potential grouping of regional parties, while the largest share—one in three—were not convinced by any of the three options listed by the survey.

The findings are part of the latest round of the biannual survey conducted online by Mint in association with survey partner YouGov India and Delhi-based think-tank Centre for Policy Research. The ninth round, held in December 2022, had 9,698 respondents across 207 cities and towns. Over 42% were post-millennials (born after 1996), and 40% were millennials (born between 1981 and 1996).

Among those who support the Congress, only four in 10 said a revitalized version of the party could be a viable alternative, and the share was unchanged since the previous survey. Supporters of AAP showed much greater faith in their preferred party: around 62% of them said India needed a new national alternative such as AAP to challenge the BJP (see chart 2).

Among BJP supporters, 31% would prefer an AAP-like national alternative, and just 21% see a rejigged Congress as a reasonable Opposition.

AAP’s see-saw

In the previous survey, the AAP had appeared to be gaining a foothold on the national scene fresh off its victory in Punjab in early 2022. But later that year, the party made only a small dent in Gujarat and none at all in Himachal Pradesh. The survey reflected this stagnation of fortunes: The party’s support base did not see any growth. Overall, the BJP was the preferred party for 40% of the respondents, Congress for 11%, and AAP for 6% (Refer to Part 3 of the series)

Moreover, the party may not be ready for the national battle yet, with almost six of every 10 respondents (58%) saying it had limited organizational presence in the districts they lived in. More than half (53%) said the AAP should have its own concrete ideology, similar to the BJP or the Left parties, while the rest said it should remain flexible (see chart 3).

Chart 3
View Full Image
Chart 3


However, the assessment of the party’s leadership was positive: 53% said Arvind Kejriwal’s leadership was responsible for AAP’s growth, while 47% were critical of his role. The majority (52%) also said AAP intended to make a positive impact on governance and welfare, as opposed to 48% who said AAP’s entire focus was to win elections by freebie promises.

Respondents from South India showed a particularly positive assessment of AAP’s work despite 61% of them pointing out the party’s limited organizational presence in their region. Around 58% approved of the party’s impact on governance and welfare and 57% approved of Kejriwal’s leadership.

Congress’ misery

Similar questions asked about the Congress did not generate much inspiration. A vast chunk cast aspersions on the party’s motives, its leadership and the Bharat Jodo Yatra. Despite the election of a non-Gandhi president, the party is still seen as dynastic (53%), to be playing the victim card to garner more media coverage (52%), with Rahul Gandhi incapable of reviving the party (51%), and the Bharat Jodo Yatra primarily focused on building his brand (52%) (see chart 4).

Chart 4
View Full Image
Chart 4

While post-millennials were equally split in their opinion on the Bharat Jodo Yatra, the criticism was greater in older generations. Around 52% of millennials and 56% of pre-millennials (born before 1981) assessed the objective of the yatra negatively. Respondents from larger cities were more critical: 52% in tier-II cities, and 55% in tier-1 cities picked the negative option (see chart 5).

The survey suggests there is no overwhelming consensus among the public in identifying an alternative to the BJP. Doubts remain over Rahul Gandhi’s leadership in the Congress, and AAP’s politics is getting mixed views. Both have just over a year to change their fortunes.

(The authors are with the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi.)

This is the fifth part of a series about the survey’s findings. The concluding part, on Tuesday, will look at Indians’ consumption and investing behaviour. Note that these surveys are skewed towards urban well-to-do netizens, with 82% respondents falling under the NCCS-A socio-economic category of consumers. Read other parts of the series here.

Catch all the Business News, Market News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates.
More Less
Recommended For You
Get alerts on WhatsApp
Set Preferences My ReadsWatchlistFeedbackRedeem a Gift CardLogout