Survey: 97.86% Voters Say Criminals Should Not Contest Elections

Every Indian Vote Counts
Every Indian Vote Counts

A political think-tank the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) released Monday the findings of its voter survey just before the Lok Sabha election in India. The survey reveals that for 41.34% voters, distribution of cash, liquor, gifts, etc. as bribe was an important factor behind voting a particular candidate in an election.

In relation to voting candidates with criminal records, maximum number of voters (36.67%) felt that people vote for such candidates because they are unaware of their criminal records.

It adds that 35.89% voters are also willing to vote for a candidate with criminal records if the candidate has done good work in the past.

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Although, according to the survey, 97.86% voters felt that candidates with criminal background should not be in Parliament or State Assembly, only 35.20% voters knew that they could get information on criminal records of the candidates.

Meanwhile, world’s top magazine The Economist says “a penchant for criminality is an electoral asset in India.” The magazine has published data about the political success of India’s “accused murderers, blackmailers, thieves, and kidnappers,” saying that 34% of India’s members of parliament (MPs) in the Lok Sabha have criminal charges filed against them.

Earlier, a report by ADR and National Election Watch (NEW) revealed that 31% ministers in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government have declared criminal cases (such as murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping and crimes against women) against them.

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The new ADR survey also highlights the voters’ priorities on 31 listed issues like drinking water, electricity, roads, food, education, healthcare, public transport, etc. It says that the top priorities of Indian voters include employment and basic amenities like healthcare, drinking water, better roads, and so on.

The voters’ priorities come as a result of prevailing governance deficit in these sectors that is causing deprivation to the average Indian voter besides also leading to the denial of their fundamental rights like right to live with human dignity as provided in the Article-21 of the Constitution.

For inclusive and equitable development, the survey suggests that it is important that the government ensures that such basic services reach all sections of the society, as it is key to developing human capabilities.

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According to the survey, Better Employment Opportunities (46.80%), Better Health Care (34.60%), and Drinking Water (30.50%) are the top three voters’ priorities at the all-India level, followed by Better Roads (28.34%) and Better Public Transport (27.35%) at the fourth and the fifth place, respectively.

The survey was conducted between October 2018 and December 2018, prior to the Lok Sabha election 2019. It covered 534 Lok Sabha constituencies with 2,73,487 voters participating in the survey.

The three main objectives of the survey were to identify voters’ priorities on specific governance issues, voters’ ratings of the government’s performance on those issues, and factors affecting voting behavior.

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Rakesh Raman