An opinion poll conducted by RSS mouthpiece 'Organiser' ahead of Lok Sabha elections has said development and governance were top issues before voters but steered clear of any mention of Ram Temple.
The survey, published in the latest issue of the weekly, said BJP's prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi is the top choice of voters for the PM's post except in south India where Rahul Gandhi enjoys an edge.
Corruption, strangely, did not figure among the top five topics among voters though it was one of the issues among the top ten. The opinion poll, however, does not mention Ram Temple.
The survey, conducted by Organiser and Lok Saarthi Foundation in 380 parliamentary constituencies across all states in central, northern, western, eastern and southern India, said that the majority of 1.14 lakh sampled electors listed lack of employment and basic amenities such as electricity, hospitals, roads and drinking water, as their primary concerns.
The survey was conducted between the first week of January and the first week of March to guage the "mood of the voters" on issues of concern to them and preferred leadership.
It took 300 samples from each Lok Sabha segment to "determine issues infringing on the day-to-day lives of people and of leadership which people see as capable of solving those issues".
The all-India opinion poll says that Modi is the top choice for PM's job by 48 per cent of the voters in north India followed by 27 per cent who back Rahul Gandhi. Arvind Kejriwal of AAP, however, trails far behind, it said.
RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav said the survey was not conducted by RSS but the Organiser, a weekly run by Swayamsevaks and RSS sympathisers.
"RSS does not and never conducts any surveys at the time of elections. This survey is done by Organiser. But to term and project it as an RSS survey is not correct," Madhav told PTI.
Reacting to the survey, BJP Vice President Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, "At present, there is a wave against malgovernance. This election will be to change the situation and fate of the country. Narendra Modi, BJP and NDA will win the Lok Sabha polls irrespective of whether the survey perdicts it or not."
According to the survey, in south India, however, the poll found that Rahul was ahead of Modi in popularity with 35.8 per cent voters backing him for PM's job as against 33.3 per cent who supported Modi.
In all the other four regions, the poll placed Modi ahead of Rahul.
The survey admitted an important shift in voters' preference to issues of development and governance.
"As many as 55 per cent people in north India list better employment opportunities as their top issue of concern followed by better electricity, subsidised food, better healthcare and drinking water. In south India, central and eastern India, too, employment opportunities were listed as people's major issue," it said.
Authors of the survey said respondents in all the five regions of the country were given open ended questions with a list of 25 queries to name their choice of issues and leadership.
The survey said that 'in north India, the "King Maker" region with 162 Lok Sabha seats, 48 per cent people support Modi or the post of Prime Minister against 27 per cent who support Rahul.
Interestingly, it said that in north, more women than men are backing Rahul Gandhi for the top post of PM.
Modi is the preferred PM candidate for more urban voters compared to rural and specifically among age groups 18 to 22 years and 51 to 60 years, according to it.
Naqvi said, "We (in BJP) always focus on chief issues concerning the people. But, unfortunately, our political opponents seem to believe in 'siyasi secularism' (secularism for political opportunism) and nowadays it has turned into Taliban mentality."
Congress leader Jayanthi Natarajan said, "RSS and BJP are always known to change their stand, statements and actions according to political compulsion. This being election time, perhaps they change their stand to appeal in a better way, perhaps they themselves realise their divisive agenda won't be fruitful."
Another Congress leader Rashid Alvi said, "We always say that people of the country respect temple as well as mosque.
It is RSS and BJP which create division between temple and mosque."
K C Tyagi (JD-U) said, "I do not go by survey. Like paid news, there is paid survey. Another would come and say that they will get 272 plus seats. I will go by the election results." PTI