May 16, 2020 - World

India's Modi sees popularity boost for coronavirus response

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Photo: Diptendu Dutta/AFP via Getty Images

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's popularity has surged amid the coronavirus pandemic, and he and the Bharatiya Janata Party could emerge even stronger after the coronavirus crisis, per recent opinion polls cited by The New York Times.

Why it matters: If India continues to successfully tackle the pandemic, Modi has the potential to emerge as a more powerful leader. Looking forward, he may try to push more Hindu-centric policies as "the deadly pandemic is bringing many Indians to his side despite lingering concerns about his agenda," the Times writes.

And those policies could come at the expense of Muslims in the country.

  • "The political opposition is practically invisible."

The big picture: Other world leaders have experienced a boost associated with the coronavirus, though for many, that is not anticipated to last.

Meanwhile, analysts told the Times that Modi's uptick in popularity could endure, as many citizens see him as a stabilizer.

  • Some polls show Modi's already-high approval rating jumping to 80%, and even as high as 90% in some cases.

But, but, but: Modi has run into a few bumps during the nation's COVID-19 lockdown, particularly with migrant laborers. Many are newly unemployed or fled India's major cities to return home on sometimes fatal journeys.

  • Economists also believe Modi's $260 billion relief package won't be enough to cover the job and economic losses caused by the pandemic, the Times notes.

What to watch: India is preparing to reopen its economy in the week ahead after Modi implemented one of the word's strongest lockdowns. That move will provide more insight into the economic impacts of the virus.

  • With the reopening, India could also see an increase in positive cases.
  • The country currently has 86,595 confirmed cases.

Go deeper: History's largest lockdown leaves Indian workers stranded, afraid

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