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A majority of Indian voters find the search for jobs has become difficult and their households are feeling the pinch from rising prices, according to an opinion survey published a week before elections kick off in Asia’s third largest economy. 

Some 62% of respondents surveyed across rural and urban India said it was harder to get job opportunities and 71% found that prices have increased over the past five years, according to an opinion poll carried out by CSDS-Lokniti. The survey was conducted between March 28 and April 8 with more than 10,000 people participating. 

More than 55% of the people surveyed said either the state or federal government were responsible for shrinking job opportunities and inflation. These are the hot-button campaign issues the opposition is trying to pin on Prime Minister Narendra Modi even though they too control some state governments. 

“These factors will have an important role to play in this election, and they will have an impact on the future trajectories of Indian democracy,” said Hilal Ahmed in the Lokniti report published in The Hindu newspaper. 

Modi is seeking a third consecutive term in power and is counting on surging economic growth and the inauguration of the controversial Hindu temple where a centuries-old mosque once stood to make gains with voters. The opposition is looking to deny further gains from Modi but have been subject to a crackdown and have been weighed down by a lack of funds.

The prime minister’s approval ratings have mostly been above 50% through his two terms, Yashwant Deshmukh, the founder-director of Centre for Voting Opinion and Trends in Election Research told Bloomberg TV in an interview on Friday.

“The main problem of the opposition alliance is the dwindling fortunes of the Congress party itself,” he said.

Here are some other findings from the survey carried out by Lokniti Programme at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies:

  • When it came to quality of life, some 36% said that they are able to fulfill all their needs but are unable to save for the future; 48% said that their life had become better in the last five years, while 35% said it got worse
  • Just 22% respondents said that the inauguration of the Ram temple was the “most liked action” by the government but only 8% said it was their primary concern when voting
  • Unemployment was the top concern for voters with 27% and price inflation came in at a close second at 23%
  • The decision to revoke the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir got only 34% approval
  • Some 63% of the respondents were not even aware of the glitzy Group of Twenty summit hosted by India last year
  • More than half of the respondents said corruption had increased, compared to 40% in a similar pre-election survey conducted in 2019
  • About 59% of the respondents believe that the demands of the farmers are genuine and they have the right to protest

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