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Narendra Modi: Prime Minister Modi’s popularity soars amid Covid fight in India | India News

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s response to the country’s growing coronavirus epidemic may help him emerge unscathed from a series of political and economic problems that plagued his government just a few months ago.

Its approval rating on April 21 was 83%, up from 76% on January 7, according to Morning Consult, a US-based research and study firm. A separate survey, the IANS-CVoter Covid-19 tracker also showed that confidence in its leadership rose to 93.5% as of April 21 from 76.8% on March 25.

Coronavirus block: latest updates

In early March, just as the number of people with Covid-19 began to rise, Modi was chairing an economy that will expand at the slowest pace in more than a decade, one of India’s largest bank failures, deadly riots in streets of New Delhi and months of sustained street protests against a new religion-based citizenship law.

Those problems seem to have been forgotten for now, as Modi placed himself front and center in the fight against the virus in India and reinforced his image as a world leader by promising to help other countries with drugs like the much-hyped hydroxychloroquine. Street protests have faded amid the national blockade, as have criticism of the government’s handling of the economy, and even opposition parties focused on fighting the virus.

But the battle to retain the label of India’s most popular leader is likely to remain a difficult task for Modi at a time when millions have lost their jobs and small businesses have been closed in one of the strictest closings in the world. So far, a slower infection rate, which virus experts say may be masked by low numbers of tests, and a reported death toll in the country of 1.3 billion people, has earned him praise.

“As the leader with the largest megaphone, the most agile political organization and the full support of the government machinery, Modi will undoubtedly use the crisis as a way to consolidate his own position and at the same time blame the economic problems of India. the virus, “said Milan Vaishnav, director and principal member of the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“Politics in India is in a state of suspended animation: in that vacuum, Modi’s leadership has become even more visible as the center has used this crisis to further centralize decision-making authority,” Vaishnav said.

Incredible popularity

India has been under a strict national blockade since March 25, despite some restrictions being reduced on April 20 to allow farmers and some industries to resume operations in rural areas and infection-free districts.

The country had reported 31,360 infections, including 1,008 deaths as of Wednesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The mandatory 40-day stay at home for almost all the 1.3 billion inhabitants of the nation, which is in force until May 3, has paralyzed commercial activity and has ended consumption, the backbone of the economy, which It could be heading for its first year-round contraction in more than four decades.

But despite everything, Modi, who as prime minister never addressed a press conference, made regular televised appearances, asking for the nation’s cooperation in the battle of the virus and thanking citizens for their discipline and strength during the shutdown.

Way ahead

The fight against growing infections may have silenced the opposition and pushed Modi’s many challenges to the background, but the path ahead is less certain.

When the country can finally come out of its blockade, the prime minister will be questioned about a strategy to help the economy recover, said Sandeep Shastri, a political scientist and professional vice chancellor at Jain University in Bangalore. “The answer to the questions will be the barometer to measure the success of today’s leadership.”

The main opposition congressional party says it is waiting for virus fears to subside before testing Modi. The pandemic makes political mobilization difficult, said Manish Tewari, a spokesman for the congressional party. “Nothing else focuses the mind more than the possibility of an invisible and lurking death, whether on the door knob or in a mirror.”

There has also been limited opposition from other political parties, though state governments have complained that the federal government has cornered finances even as they struggle to find funds to expand their medical infrastructure.

And the protests that rocked the streets of India until just before the spread of the virus and the subsequent blockade, also remain dormant.

“The protests will not end,” said Muzakkir Zama Khan, a lawyer who was part of the protests against the new government citizenship law. “However, the means of expressing our point of view may have to change.”

Times of India