Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity ratings fell to a new low amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to surveys by an Indian and an American agency, reported Reuters.

The prime minister assumed office in 2014 and was re-elected in 2019 – both times with a huge mandate. In 2019, the Bharatiya Janata Party won the General Elections, securing 303 seats out of 542 on its own, and capturing 37% of the votes. The Congress, the main Opposition party, won just 52 seats with a 19.5% vote share.

According to Indian agency CVoter, only 37% of respondents said they were “very much satisfied” with Modi’s governance. This was a huge drop from the 65% recorded in 2020, according to Reuters.

The Indian prime minister’s overall popularity this week stood at 63% and those disapproving of Modi was at 31%, according to the United States-based agency Morning Consult, which tracks several world leaders. The biggest drop in the prime minister’s popularity ratings occurred in April, when his net approval fell by 22 points. The American agency began tracking Modi’s popularity in August 2019.

Therefore, based on the data from the two surveys, this was the first time in seven years that the number of respondents voicing displeasure with the Modi administration’s governance was higher than those satisfied with it.

“The prime minister is facing the biggest political challenge of his career,” CVOTER Founder Yashwant Deshmukh told Reuters. However, the Cvoter data showed that despite a dip in Modi’s approval ratings, he remained India’s most popular face in politics.

The fall in the Modi government’s popularity was attributed to India’s experience with the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and the mismanagement during this period. As hospitals and states grappled with shortages of basic equipment and drugs used to treat Covid-19 patients, the country’s healthcare infrastructure took a severe beating amid a surge in new infections due to multiple variants of the coronavirus.

On April 19, the Indian government announced that everyone above 18 years of age can be vaccinated against Covid-19 in the third phase of India’s inoculation programme. Only those over 45 and frontline workers were being vaccinated against the disease till the announcement.

However, multiple states in India continue to report lack of Covid-19 vaccines as drug firms are unable to meet the rising demands. Amid criticism of not enough vaccinations done in India and more being exported, the Serum Institute of India, manufacturer of the Covishield vaccine, on Tuesday said that the company has not exported vaccines “at the cost of people in India”.

Meanwhile, at least 10 states have floated global tenders to procure vaccines from outside the country.

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