UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath | ANI
File image of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath | Photo: ANI
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The India Today media group’s bi-annual ‘Mood of the Nation’ survey has been telling us, for the last three editions, that Yogi Adityanath of Uttar Pradesh has been found to be “the best chief minister” in the country.

The media group keeps screaming out this finding at the top of its voices. It almost sounds like India Today has made a discovery and Eureka! We must all talk about this discovery. The media group then proceeds to discuss Yogi Adityanath’s achievements in a gushing, celebratory tone. The superlatives don’t stop flowing. The cover stories, the fancy photo shoots, the prime time coverage on associated channels, the intermittent posts on social media that act as reminders — it’s a complete package.

This enthusiastic celebration of Yogi Adityanath’s leadership would suggest that people in Uttar Pradesh are very happy with their chief minister. But are they? Not quite, as India Today’s own data reveals.


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When people of a state get to rate CMs of all states

You don’t even have to step into Uttar Pradesh to be skeptical of this claim. Is the data by Karvy Insights, the survey agency, questionable? You have to read the fine print in India Today’s explanations to realise it’s not the data that is problematic but how India Today presents it.

Every six months, the media group gets Karvy Insights to ask thousands of respondents all over the country, “Who do you think is the best chief minister in India?” In other words, a respondent in Chennai can name Arvind Kejriwal of Delhi. And a respondent in Shimla can pick Uddhav Thackeray of Maharashtra as the best chief minister in India.

A screen grab from YouTube

In other words, this ranking is not a reflection of a chief minister’s popularity within their state. A CM could be doing very well in his/her state but could still rank poorly in a nationwide poll where every chief minister is in the race.

The ‘Mood of the Nation’ or MOTN survey does note how a chief minister is doing within his/her own state, but this data is sparingly put out and severely downplayed. For example, in the latest (August 2020) MOTN, Yogi Adityanath’s popularity rating in Uttar Pradesh is 49 per cent, lower than Nitish Kumar’s in Bihar (55 per cent), Mamata Banerjee’s in West Bengal (59 per cent), Arvind Kejriwal’s in Delhi (63 per cent), and YS Jagan Mohan Reddy’s in Andhra Pradesh (87 per cent). Uddhav Thackeray gets an approval rating of 44 per cent from respondents in Maharashtra.

In the all-India ratings, Yogi Adityanath is rated the best chief minister by 24 per cent respondents. Which states did these high ratings come from? Are they spread throughout India or concentrated in a few Hindi heartland states? Only 2 per cent respondents think Vijay Rupani of Gujarat is the best CM in India. It is possible, then, that BJP supporters in the Hindi heartland think Yogi Adityanath is the best CM because they’re not going to rate a boring Vijay Rupani above Adityanath. Similarly, BJP supporters in Rajasthan certainly won’t rate Ashok Gehlot as the best CM, and they too would likely pick Hindutva icon Yogi Adityanath as their choice for favourite CM.

Yogi Adityanath’s ratings in the all-India survey has increased from 18 per cent in January 2020 to 24 per cent in August 2020. These numbers, high as they may seem, correspond roughly to the core Hindutva constituency. When the BJP loses a national election, as in 2009, its vote share hovers around 20 per cent. We can thus presume this is the core Hindutva constituency that votes the BJP even when it is losing.

How relevant or important is it to know which chief minister is popular across India? The only use of such a finding is in the context of national politics. The BJP may well bring Yogi Adityanath to national politics. Sure, but for now the more important metric is ‘home state popularity’. It is far more important to know how Yogi Adityanath is doing in Uttar Pradesh than how he is perceived by residents of other states. That’s because his performance in UP has a bearing on the next assembly election in the state. If Yogi Adityanath loses the 2022 UP assembly election, his all-India rating will mean nothing.


Also read: The case against dividing Uttar Pradesh into smaller states


Projecting a political rating as a governance rating

Two years ago, in August 2018, India Today MOTN found Mamata Banerjee to be the favourite CM among respondents all over India. This is the caveat the media group carried along with its report: “Since the MOTN is a subjective study of voter perception across the country, the No. 1 status is more a reflection of political popularity rather than a test of governance.”

But consider this: Ever since Yogi Adityanath has started winning the top slot in this survey, India Today has stopped putting out this statement reflecting the difference between politics and governance. The media group takes the all-India result and goes into a trance about Yogi Adityanath, like a grandmother celebrating the first grandchild, distributing sweets in the entire village.

A screen grab from YouTube

Instead of the disclaimer, India Today now explains why the “Karma Yogi” has emerged as “the best chief minister”. For example, in August 2019, the media group published its report with lines like: “That one of the two defence industrial corridors, announced in the Union Budget in 2018 will pass through Bundelkhand, UP’s poorest region, is expected to give a leg-up to development in UP and raise Adityanath’s stock.”

Such staid sentences about announced projects that haven’t yet seen the light of day are standard in government pamphlets. It sounds like a copy-paste job from the Uttar Pradesh government’s publicity department. Moreover, what happened to the media group’s own explanation of this being a political ranking and not really reflective of governance? Was it a distinction meant only for Mamata Banerjee?


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The Yogi paradox India Today won’t talk about 

In its January 2020 survey, the media group did not reveal any home state rankings at all. Perhaps Yogi Adityanath’s rankings were so bad that it would have made their celebration of “best CM” look silly.

In their report about the August 2019 survey, the last paragraph mentioned that in ‘home state’ rankings, Naveen Patnaik of Odisha fared the best with 75 per cent, closely followed by Ashok Gehlot of Rajasthan with 73 per cent. By contrast, their “Karma Yogi” managed only 54 per cent, as did Nitish Kumar.

It is to be noted that in their own ‘home state’ rankings, Yogi Adityanath’s ratings fell from 54 per cent in August 2019 to 49 per cent in August 2020. This important detail must be brushed aside to let India Today run its “best CM” line for a leader who actually fares rather poorly in the estimation of his own voters.

One would expect India Today to pick up the paradox in its own survey: that Yogi Adityanath’s popularity across India is increasing while his popularity within UP is declining. But it doesn’t.


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‘Home state’ irrelevant for India Today

India Today doesn’t reveal ‘home state’ popularity figures of all chief ministers, and sometimes it skips talking about ‘home state popularity’ altogether. In the editorial judgement of the India Today Group, it doesn’t seem to matter what people in Rajasthan think of Ashok Gehlot, what people in Gujarat think of Vijay Rupani, or what people in Tamil Nadu think of Edappadi K. Palaniswami.

We know that Nitish Kumar and Mamata Banerjee aren’t doing very well these days. Mamata Banerjee has received flak for Amphan cyclone relief distribution, and before that, her initial fudging of Covid-19 data. In Bihar, Nitish Kumar has come across poorly in crisis after crisis, be it related to migrant labourers or the handling of Covid or floods. He may be the frontrunner for the CM’s post in the imminent election in Bihar but voters are likely to choose him more because they don’t feel they have a viable alternative, and less because they think he has been doing a great job.

Given these realties, if Yogi Adityanath is faring worse than Mamata Banerjee and Nitish Kumar, he is far from the best chief minister in India. He’s probably one of the worst performing CMs in India Today’s survey, which we might be able to verify if the media group had the integrity to reveal its full list of ‘home state’ approval ratings of all chief ministers.

The author is contributing editor, ThePrint. Views are personal.

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71 Comments Share Your Views

71 COMMENTS

  1. Hindus should be asking why a nation of 1 billion Hindus could produce only a chai wallah with a forged degree, and a dirty yogi with a criminal record.

    Now they imagine this Yogi is a Vivekananda, the next Hindu vishwa guru.

  2. Just because you dont like Yogi Adityanath, means you disown surveys? Write all non-sense. I remember before 2014. “India is not Gujarat Mr. Modi” Thus spake all you left liberal pseudo intellects. Today? Modi is going to win 2024. Take it from me.

    • If one believes the surveys, one has to wonder why 1 billion Hindus could only produce a dirty looking Yogi , who promotes gomutra and says caste system is a good for regulating society.

    • Modi is winning elections but economy and country are in the doldrums. But Hindu militants worship him.

      What does that show ? Many Hindus have low IQ.

      China took land, and your chowkidar was quiet and meek. Bilqul chup ! What does that show ? Hindu militants are the proverbial Hindu cowards.

  3. Thinking of taking Yogi to the centre? Sure, why not. Give him the defence ministry too. Thook dega China ko! He has garnered enough experience in UP.

  4. YOgi is certainly a very good organiser and does not sit back on his haunches. But let us remember that one of the first things he did was use his clout as CM to withdraw several criminal cases that were pending investigation against him. So, he would be a good CM if there was no Constitution and laws were to be interpreted by him alone. Meanwhile several quiet performers like EPS, Patnaik and Vijayan are ignored.

    • Every thing they wrote was true journalism, which point can you point to and say its was shameful.
      What India today did was not even Jurnalism.

    • stupid joker if you dont like true facts dont read the article . the print is an amazing media group unlike fake india today

  5. ” In other words, a respondent in Chennai can name Arvind Kejriwal of Delhi. And a respondent in Shimla can pick Uddhav Thackeray of Maharashtra as the best chief minister in India.”
    If I think my Chief Minister is the BEST I will not choose another Chief Minister just for fun.

  6. Well that’s a fantastic plan of BJP creating a future PM candidate, as we all know they r aggressively looking for Modi ji replacement so this starts a strategy of bringing Yogi in lime light nothing wrong though people get old get replaced that’s how politics work and in 10 years usually people are bored seeing same face as a PM, same topics same man ki baat and same aatmanirbhar well kinda fun it will be, Yogi as a PM what about motu bhai then I thibk health reasons, curious why Mohan Bhagwat is not looking at this position either way cannot put the congress rebel scindia or others as most of our politicians are getting old now.

  7. If yogi is the best CM in country then the sacrifices of people like Gandhi, Ambedkar is gone in vain. He’s been best because of help of religion and temple.

  8. Shivam, Shivam, Shivam. What a child you are. You still need to be coached in the ways of the media inspite of writing (hit and miss) opinion pieces for years. Yogi Adityanath is playing the same game that Modi played 20 years back in Gujarat.
    Name of the game: create hype.
    Players: Anybody with access to public money.
    Playground: Media houses.
    Supporters: Brain-washed public all over India.
    It is obvious that he is trying to position himself for the top office once the Modi era is over. Brace for an almighty implosion in the BJP-RSS resulting from the inevitable Shah vs Yogi clash. You can get your popcorn ready and watch the fun from the side-lines coz no one from the liberal space is going to occupy the top chair in India thanks to the efforts of people like you to undermine the opposition. Rupani and all his Gujarati brethren can also join as spectators when the North Indian lobby will eviscerate the Gujarati lobby of the BJP.

  9. Must everyone vote BJP. No need waste vote on others. Must vote 100% BJP and fully exterminate ALL competing parties and differing points of view. Of what use is competition? We are already the most enlightened country Ram Rajya & economic powerhouse bringing Acche Din? Next, Modi will lead conquest of China.

  10. If you go by international standards, Kerala CM Pinarayan is the best CM.

    He controlled the Nipah virus some years back with under 10 deaths. He got an award by the WHO.

    He was superlative in the organisation of flood relief. The spiteful Modi govt. blocked $ 800 million that the UAE offered as aid.

    The Kerala CM and its health Minster Shailaja teacher have been commended by World Bank for the handling of Covid, with under 100 deaths.

    Lastly, but most important, he did not allow the Sanghi fascists to create havoc in Kerala.

    • He or his govt. did not control Nipah , the health workers of hispitals dud it fir the state. Part of the Floid gavoc last year was man-made by his electricity minister ordering release of dam water too late. Lastly, WHO is a Chinese controlled organization and no one takes its utterances seriously now, after several blunders !

      • ‘the health workers of hispitals dud it fir the state. ‘

        At least, Kerala has a health care system, and a minister who got interviewed on BBC and who has been commended by WHO.

        Kerala has even published its mitigation plan for rise of sea levels due to global warming. It seems to have people with real focus unlike gobar filled numskulls like Yogi.

        Yogi could not handle Japanese encephalitis in his own constituency, and he gaoled the doctor because the media praised him.

    • Ok terrorist communist.. kerala producess maximum ISIS terroist, most of them goes outside to do labour work. law and order worst. Keralas health care system destroyed by COvid, check the datas now.. that communist proapganda dont work any more. and what paid channel like BBC does dont represent any thing. calm down foreign communist

  11. Today in UP, a 6 year old girl was raped in UP, and her genitals are so damaged that she is fighting for life.

    Yogi could not control Japanese encephaltis, so he put the doctor who saved children, into gaol.

    After China took land, and there was talk about businesses exiting from China, the Yogi declared that he had written to those companies to locate to UP. He got carried away and send UP was going to become an industrial hub ! No company relcoated to UP.

    Earlier Yogi had said UP was going to be hub for religious tourism.

    When he became CM, he was interviewed on NDTV. When asked about caste, he said it was a very good system to regulate society.

    Dubey’s gangsters killed 11 policemen in UP before he got encountered.

    Give me a break !

    The media can be controlled by assaulting journalists. The other way is to use industrial money to buy out the media. The industrialists are given benefits in return. It turns into an oligarchy run for the benefit of the few.

    • First of all you idiots should know that The Print secretly appreciates Yogi Adityanath.Now as far as I know there are better CM s in India, but not in this period.Certainly he’s the best CM.Comparing him to a stupid appeaser like Vijayan will even surprise Vijayan.Being from kerala I can he is presently engaging in caste and religious appeasement to get re elected,but still even after all those desperate attempts of vote bank politics,his chances of a 2nd term appears bleak.Yogi,by killing a brahmin criminal,was under fire from the community which is the 1st ranking in caste system.The same man who said caste is a good one knows how to manage it in the society.Since march we people are under strict lockdown,we supported it at first,now these Vijayan team is claiming upcoming months will be the most covid intensive ones,If someone says Vijayan managed covid better than Yogi Adityanath, then we keralites(who’ve got brains) will slit them

  12. Ah…. everyone’s favorite word to suddenly make everything they say plausible – data. Simply put some numbers and all is validated. How ridiculous. Look at the pathetic so called data that is given in this article. No numbers on how many people were surveyed, what the questions were, what scales were used. Nothing. Zilch. But, we will proudly present what we think are facts because hey – we have data. It cannot be more pathetic. No, I’m not in any way implying that Adityanath is great. He may very well be or he may not. But to give your numbers as data and try to convince people on how poorly he fairs shows how poorly you’ve done your homework. Also, just because the survey was based on subjectivity does not immediately mean that the answers were given based on political popularity. Please give people more credit. It is this very tendency to think of the general population as dumb and awe struck that make people like Shivam Vij the butt of jokes. Why should it be based only on popularity. If the CM has actually succeed in implementing some of what he has promised though not all, you will have some people who will be satisfied with him because he has managed to deliver what they need – though not all. This fact has nothing to do with popularity. It has everything to do with how efficient the man is or isn’t. Get out of your cocoon, and develop some unbiased objectivity first. The you can go ahead and think about commenting on a public figure who from where I sit is liked by people. If you want to make a convincing argument, you need to be intelligent first.

  13. The common there in the India today MOTN, especially regarding PM Modi’s approval rating was:
    23% thought outstanding on all issues
    45-48% thought good on all issues
    10% thought fair on all issues

    For every issue it was a similar pattern. I do not mean to point it out as a criticism of MOTN or the survey. It just seems to suggest that the respondents had a blanket opinion on all issues rather than a nuanced take. It was very interesting to see that.

  14. Such a venomous man is this Shivam Vij. He is having burnol moment because Yogi Adityanath has been named the best chief minister and goes on to find non existant loopholes with his, as usual hollow, biased arguments. He himself is so much anti Modi, aanti BJP, anti Yogi and all that is associated with BJP but he is pointing fingers at India today’s survey. Had Raj Chengappa been with debate with this illiterate and venomous fellow he would have ripped him apart. A few mo ths ago Justice Markandeya Katju had ripped him apart and called him out for giving his own biased views rather than hard facts. He does that every third days. He has nothing to do with facts and figures. He goes on with his own views and needless to say every article revolves around Modi bashing. Probably he is the race to get noticed by congress high comman so that he can improve the quality of his life. If he feels Yogi Adityanath is the worst CM then so be it. No one, anyway expected him to give good ratings to Yogi. Point is India Today has taken the pains to do the survey which it does every January and August. But this man Shivam Vij like the lazy back bencher calls out names to people who work to bring out this survey. And all for his hate of one person, Modi. Pathetic.

  15. Like most media outlets and celebrities, India Today is trying to fast track polishing it’s image by unabashed sycophancy.
    In democracy you get the leaders you deserve but the way Indian media has completely submitted to brown nosing is stunning.

  16. Shri Vij, I can smell something burning! I guess it must be difficult to digest that Yogi got better rating than what the almighty shri Vij would have given. 2 things I recommend to you.

    1. Go to UP and ask the people there and you will be very surprised that people do think he is doing a great job

    2. I also suggest that you have a word with your editor, who I think said atleast 6 times in his “ cut the clutter” on this very survey on how good, authentic and impartial this survey was.

    Meanwhile back to the smell, try taking a dip in water to stop the burning

  17. Interesting reading. However, how does core Hindu vote go to only one BJP chief minister and doesn’t get distributed to the rest of the BJP chief ministers.

    Is there a scent of anti BJP’ism or is it anti India Today’ism.

  18. I have been following print.in for a long time now , have seen fascinating facets of journalism exhibited by the team and moreover i see varying views of the team as well but one man has not changed a bit , shivam has been absolutely hammering on a same spot ever since he joined print while one can go on like this for a long time but it has become boring now.

    Yes as Shekhar mentions that journalism is influenced by facts not the perception but Shivam is absolutely in grip of the perception he has towards
    a. Modi
    b. Yogi
    c. Amit Shah

  19. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna lays out what it means to be a Yogi:
    “Fearlessness, purity of heart, perseverance in acquiring wisdom and in practicing yoga, charity, subjugation of the senses, performance of holy rites, study of the scriptures, self-discipline, straightforwardness; Noninjury, truthfulness, freedom from wrath, renunciation, peacefulness, nonslanderousness, compassion for all creatures, absence of greed, gentleness, modesty, lack of restlessness; Radiance of character, forgiveness, patience, cleanness, freedom from hate, absence of conceit—these qualities are the wealth of a divinely inclined person, O Descendant of Bharata.”

  20. !! Asatyam Shivam Sadaa Sandesham !!

    Shivam We…zzzzzz – “Best Editing Contributor in the Universe”, only not in India !!

  21. survey by India Today ( Done before 5th August 2020 ) or no survey, , it is very well known to all that at present day DEJECTED , DEFEATED AND DEMORALIZED Congress party or any of other political party or alliance of parties is not in a position to provide leadership to the country and the party –BJP and NDA alliance is only choice before people . Many of pro congress journalists in order to gain some more largasses from Congress party s coffers may pronounce it is due to TINA factor.I don t have any objection to their reasoning because they were/ are trained to see the thing only in binary of Ruling party and opposition party . No further need to go into reasons behind the hard facts .,, according to their brilliant minds — a 100 % performance by Modi is equal to 0 % or is in negative digits. according to Modi hating journalists ==People giving their positive opinions in surveys to Modi Government are mis-guided , influenced, prone to error and may be ignorant . The views of the common people even reflected by any agency doing surveys in generally accepted format is inconsequel if it showed results contrary to their own prejudiced mindset.
    Thanks God survey was done prior to 5th August 2020 , other wise pro-dynasty journalists would have been under MUCH GREATER SHOCK .

  22. “Shoe I am “you STUPIDO. BEST CHIEF MINISTER OF INDIA is in jail over corruption charges. As if corruption is a crime. We must win elections in Bihar and restore corruption and RIOTERS must be given important position. So instead of wasting your energies posing as a journalist start campaigning in Bihar. As you are aware my 50 years old babies life cannot be risked in this pandemic. MAMMAMIA

    • Sometimes seeing Bhakts’s reactions is somehow more satisfying.
      What’re you all doing here? Poopindia and many right-wing portals need your viewership to survive.

  23. Ur getting Ur money from Modi right. Ur more horrible than Republic TV and Amish devgun or was there a ED raid at Shekar Gupta’s house and office

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