A survey conducted in 534 parliamentary constituencies found that employment opportunities are the chief concern among voters. The survey conducted by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) between October and December last year revealed that voters prioritise basic necessities like employment, healthcare, water, roads, transportation etc. over national security and defence.
The survey listed 31 governance issues to determine priorities from 2.7 lakh respondents across 29 states and five union territories.
Among the top 10 governance issues at the all-India level, better employment opportunities emerged as the first priority with 46.8 per cent. The second to fifth priorities are better hospitals/primary health care centres (34.60%), drinking water (30.50%), better roads (28.34%) and better public transport (28.34%).
The sixth to ninth priorities are related to agriculture and law and order is at the 10th spot.
Interestingly, according to the survey responses, the performance rate of all 10 priorities are below average, which means that the voters are not satisfied with the current government performance. "The government needs to prioritise and invest more particularly in these sectors," said the ADR press release. "On Better Employment Opportunities, which is the voters’ topmost priority, the performance of the government has been rated as one of the worst (2.15 on a scale of 5)."
For both rural and urban voters, better employment opportunities are the topmost priority - 44.21 per cent of rural voters and 51.60 per cent of urban voters.
Traffic congestion was the third priority after better health care with urban voters. On the performance of the government on urban voter priorities, the empowerment of women and security got the highest rate (2.64) and terrorism (1.00) got the lowest.
For rural voters, the second to sixth priorities are related to agriculture such as water availability for agriculture, loan availability, higher price realisation for farm products, agricultural subsidy for seeds/fertilisers and electricity for agriculture. The highest performance rate among rural voters is given to better public transport (2.67) and the lowest to training for jobs (1.02).
According to the survey, none of the 31 issues got an average or above average performance rate. Moreover, the encroachment of public lands, lakes etc., terrorism, training for jobs, strong defence/military, eradication of corruption, lower food prices for consumers and mining/quarrying received a poor performance rating from the voters.
Karnataka is among the three states with drinking water as the topmost priority. Odisha and Daman and Diu are the other states/UTs. Better employment opportunities have become a top concern in seven Empowered Action Group states, which are considered as the most socio-economically backward ones.
In comparison with the All India Mid-Term Survey 2017, the performance rate has decreased for each priority. The top two priorities - employment opportunities and better healthcare - remained at the top in both surveys.
CM candidate an important factor
The survey also analysed the reasons for voters to vote for a candidate in an election. For 75.11 per cent of voters, the chief ministerial candidate is the most important reason, followed by the candidate's party (71.32 per cent) and the candidate himself/herself (68.03 per cent). For 41.34 per cent of voters, doles like cash, liquor, gifts etc. are an important factor behind voting for a particular candidate.
Regarding the criminal records of candidates, a huge majority of voters (97.86%) felt that candidates with criminal backgrounds should not be in legislative bodies. The maximum number of voters (36.67 per cent) felt that people vote for such candidates because they are unaware of his/her criminal records. The survey also said that 35.89 per cent of voters are willing to vote for a candidate with a criminal record if he/she has done good work in the past.