New Delhi: A new report released by the Delhi-based Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) has revealed that BJP is the most-liked party of Indian women — with an especially strong support base among the rich, upper-caste, higher-educated and urban women.
The study, released on 13 November, was conducted between April and May this year in 11 states — Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Kerala, Mizoram, Odisha, Punjab, West Bengal, Delhi, Jharkhand and Telangana. It took into account views of 6,348 women respondents above the age of 18.
The report has found that one out of every four women respondents (27 per cent) support the BJP, while Congress is liked by a little less than two out of every 10 participants (18 per cent). Among these respondents, the ruling party is the most-liked in Haryana, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Delhi and Bihar while Congress is a favourite only among the women in Punjab.
The women in other remaining states preferred regional parties, or didn’t express a strong liking for any one outfit.
The study also notes age-wise preferences of political parties and notes that BJP is most-liked by younger women. Close to one-third or 32 per cent of young women respondents (between 18-20 years age) like BJP the most, as opposed to 13 per cent of this age group preferring the Congress.
Older women, on the other hand, are less likely to support the BJP (20 per cent). This, however, does not mean the Congress made a dent in this age group because only 17 per cent had said they supported the party.
BJP enjoys support base among rich women
The study also reveals that BJP enjoys a support base among the middle-class and economically well-off women. This strengthens and mirrors the findings made earlier this year that the elite are among the BJP’s loyal supporters.
The ruling party also enjoys a support base among women residing in cities, with close to four out of every 10 urban women vouching for it (37 per cent). The Congress, in the meanwhile, has been found to be trailing in rural India as well (18 per cent), while the BJP enjoys a 26 per cent support by women there.
The report further notes that higher-educated women, or those who have a college degree, like BJP the most — 34 per cent of college graduates support the party.
A community-wise disaggregation of data also revealed that BJP enjoys support of women from its core voter-base of upper-caste Hindus as well as the OBCs. A 39 per cent of upper-caste and 35 per cent of OBC women support the ruling party.
Two-fifth support to BJP is recent
The study says that a 25 per cent of women believes it is the BJP which focuses most on problems concerning women while only a 14 per cent vouched for the Congress.
The report, however, points out that two-fifth of this support for the BJP is only recent (figure 7.5). A 40 per cent of women BJP supporters also said they didn’t always prefer the party and have only recently taken a liking to it.
The study notes that among these “new entrants” of women BJP supporters, the recent liking is more pronounced in certain castes and communities. Among all the women Sikh supporters of BJP, 57 per cent are new entrants, while among Muslim supporters, 47 per cent have lately taken a liking to the party.
The study also tries to understand the political attitudes and ideologies of women respondents by asking them four pertinent questions – should India abolish death penalty, do they agree/disagree that eating beef is a personal habit and no one should interfere in it, do they agree/disagree that films which hurt sentiments should be banned and do they agree that military solution and not dialogue will fix India-Pakistan problems.
Based on these responses, the study presents an index of liberal-conservative positions on contentious issues and concludes that 48 per cent of women respondents are somewhat conservative while 15 per cent are strongly conservative. Meanwhile, a 27 per cent are somewhat liberal.