How different are India’s two biggest metros from the rest of the country when it comes to elections and voting behaviour?

We look at it in several ways. How do they compare on awareness? What are the major considerations when voting? To what extent does money and crime affect them?

We also look at how Delhi and Mumbai compare with the rest of the country when it comes to governance issues like employment, basic essential services, law and order, infrastructure and so on. Also how do the metros’ voters rate the performance on governance?

The findings are based on India’s largest ever voter survey of over 2.5 lakh voters in about 525 Lok Sabha constituencies carried out by ADR with the assistance of Daksh, a Bangalore based NGO.

As the following table shows, there are some significant differences. Delhi is different from Mumbai and from the rest of the country. Delhi voters give much greater importance to the local candidate than to the party or the PM candidate. On a 10 point scale, Delhi voters give an importance of 8.74 for the local candidate, and only 7.36 and 6.77 for the party or the PM candidate. Mumbai on the other hand gives maximum weightage to the political party, followed by the PM candidate, and only third preference to the local candidate. In both the metros and the rest of India, the voters claim that the voter’s caste or religion doesn’t matter, and neither does the distribution of money, liquor and gifts.

 Factor influencing voting: Score on 10 point scaleDelhiMumbaiAll India
The Candidate8.746.887.28
Candidate’s Party7.367.486.70
The party’s PM Candidate6.777.335.98
Candidate’s caste/religion5.334.775.11
Distribution of money / liquor / gifts4.635.154.36

Compared to India as a whole, the two metros give far greater weight to the party and the PM candidate. For them the Lok Sabha is perhaps more of a national election.

We next look at the issue of crime and money in elections. On the issue of candidates with serious criminal cases, only 14% of Delhi respondents were willing to give an answer. But all of them said that we should not vote for such candidates. Whether this translates into action or is mere wishful thinking remains to be seen. In Mumbai 74.1% said we should not vote for such candidates. Mumbai is similar to the rest of the country in this respect. However, Mumbai voters seem to be more frank and bold as only 55% of respondents around India were willing to answer the question compared to 93.6% in Mumbai.

If we look at awareness of basic electoral laws, and of availability of information, the two metros in general are ahead of the rest of the country. In Delhi, 84.7% and in Mumbai 67.2% said they knew that distribution of money, liquor, gifts etc. for votes is illegal. The All India score is 68.7%, in fact slightly higher than Mumbai. When it came to admitting they knew of distribution of gifts for votes, Delhi with 45.3% and Mumbai with 48.2% were ahead of the All India average where only 34% admitted they knew of such distribution during elections. Voter awareness on the fact that criminal records of candidates are publicly available is very low with Delhi at 54.5%, Mumbai at 43.9% and the India as a whole at only 35.1%. The Election Commission perhaps needs to widely disseminate the criminal records of candidates to voters. This is also keeping to the letter and spirit of the Supreme Court judgment asking such information to be widely available.

Do you think people should vote for seriously tainted candidates? DelhiMumbaiIndia
Percent who responded to the question14%93.6%55.00%
% of respondents who said Yes0%25.9%22.06%
% of respondents who said No100%74.1%77.94%
Yes/No "knowledge and opinion questions" : Do you know  
"Gifts" for vote is illegal84.7%67.2%68.71%
Of Candidates distributing 'gifts'45.3%48.2%34.05%
You can get candidate criminal record54.5%43.9%35.13%
Why do people vote for those with serious criminal records:  
Candidate does good work63.0%67.3%68.15%

When asked why others vote for people with serious criminal records, the major reason given was that the candidate otherwise does good work. Issues like caste, religion, spending in elections were not seen to be significant.

Finally, we look at the actual voter priorities, or what they want from Government. A list of 30 items was presented to respondents. They said each issue was either very important, important or not important. Based on this, the two metros come out to be far more demanding. Delhi was the most demanding and said almost everything was very important. The average importance score on a 10 point scale was a whopping 9.17. Mumbai was not so demanding, but still much more than the rest of India with a score of 8..56, while India had an average score on the top 10 priorities of 7.69. With greater awareness, it is perhaps not surprising that the metro voters are far more demanding.

So what are the priorities of voters? The top priorities that are common between Delhi and Mumbai are drinking water, healthcare, law and order, roads, public transport, security of women and lower prices.It is up to whichever Government comes to power to address these issues The major differences are that Delhi gives greater weightage to electricity supply, schools, employment and a strong defence, whereas Mumbai gives greater preference to traffic congestion, trust in the MP, garbage clearance and corruption. They perhaps reflect the availability or lack of these facilities in the respective cities. The rest of India broadly shares these priorities with the two metros, except for the demand for subsidised food through PDS/ration, and higher prices for farm produce from farmers.

How do the voter’s rate the performance of Government on these priorities? On all the governance parameters, the performance is rated as below average. On a 10 point scale, a score of 6.67 or above is above average, and anything below that is below average. In Delhi, the average performance on the top priorities is 5.94 compared to an Importance score of 9.17 on 10. In Mumbai, it is 5.12 on an Importance score of 8.56, and for India as a whole it is 5.85 compared to an Importance score of 7.60. People across India including Delhi and Mumbai are unhappy with the quality of governance.

In conclusion, people in Delhi are the most demanding, followed by Mumbai and then the rest of the country. In all places, people rate Government performance well below average. Of India’s top 10 priorities, Delhi and Mumbai share six, namely drinking water, health, law and order, roads, public transport, women’s security, and lower prices. Delhi wants better electricity supply, schools, employment and a strong defence, and Mumbai better work on traffic congestion, more trust in the MP, garbage clearance and removal of corruption. India as a whole broadly shares these priorities with the two metros, except for the demand for subsidised food through PDS/ration, and higher prices for farm produce from farmers.

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