Seventy-nine percent of the respondents to the Pre-Poll Study 2024 by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies and Lokniti said that they believed that “India belongs to all religions equally, not just Hindus”.

The survey was conducted between March 28 and April 8 across 19 states and found that the majority of its 10,019 respondents supported religious pluralism. Only 11% of the respondents said that they believed that “India belongs only to Hindus”, while nearly eight in every 10 Hindus spoke in favour of religious pluralism.

The Pre-Poll Study 2024 also suggests decreasing public trust among respondents over the functioning of the Election Commission, with 58% of them saying that they had “some or great trust” in the poll body, down from 78% in the Pre-Poll Study 2019.

Forty-five percent of the respondents believed that it is was very or somewhat likely that Electronic Voting Machines could be manipulated by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

On Thursday, a group of 87 former civil servants wrote an open letter to the Election Commission, highlighting the poll panel’s “strange diffidence” in dealing with actions that impact the conduct of free and fair elections, despite the enormous powers vested in it by the Constitution to do so.

In January, the Congress alleged that the Election Commission had failed to provide any substantive response to the Opposition Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance’s “genuine concerns” about electronic voting machines.

The Lok Sabha elections will take place in seven phases from April 19 to June 1. Votes will be counted on June 4.