An exclusive nation-wide Outlook-Marketing and Development Research Associates (MDRA) second and final National Opinion Poll before the Lok Sabha elections beginning next week gives a clear victory for the Vajpayee-led NDA. Projections from the survey indicate that the alliance may corner about 276 seats. The BJP on its own will improve on its 1999 performance of 182 seats and increase its tally to about 197. NDA allies are likely to lose seats and come down to 79 seats this time.
As for the Congress and its allies, the Opinion Poll gives them about 166 seats, an improvement on the 154 seats it managed in 1999. But there is still no good news for the Congress. The Opinion Poll projects that the party will slip to an all time low of 101 seats. Its tally was 114 in the 1999. However, the Congress allies will better their 1999 performance -- from 40 to about 65 seats. Other parties are expected to corner about 101 seats.
Despite the absence of a wave in favour of any alliance at the national level, the poll findings indicate that Brand Vajpayee is the USP of the NDA. Overall, 61 per cent respondents preferred Atal Behari Vajpayee to be the next Prime Minister. The majority, 66 per cent, were of the view that NDA should be given another chance. Sonia Gandhi found support among 29 percent respondents, while L.K.Advani, Jyoti Basu and Manmohan Singh impressed only one percent as Prime Ministerial candidates.
Questions on the entry of Rahul Gandhi drew an interesting response. Overall 54 per cent say his entry would help the Congress while 36 per cent say it will not. The opinion poll, however, indicates that despite boosting the image of the Congress, Rahul's entry is unlikely to result in any significant gains for the party.
The opinion poll was conducted between April 1 and April 6 by MDRA, a premier polling agency with some of the best professionals in the business associated with it. The survey for Outlook was carried out in 106 parliamentary constituencies spread across 17 states. In all, 12,722 voters were personally interviewed. It covered 636 villages and 318 urban centres spread across 318 assembly constituencies.
The poll was conducted by Naveen Surapaneni. Dr. N.Bhaskara Rao, Chairman of the MDRA, guided the research team.
The Opinion Poll appears in the next issue of the magazine which hits the stands on April 17 and will be available on the website on the same day.