CHANDIGARH: A pre-Lok Sabha all India survey on governance issues and voting behaviour has found that better employment opportunities, agriculture loan availability and higher price realisation of farm products are the top three priorities of voters in Punjab as well as Haryana.

The survey has been conducted by the NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) from October 2018 to December 2018 covering 534 Lok Sabhaconstituencies with the participation of over 2.73 voters. The survey, in which at least 500 voters were interviewed in each constituency, was aimed to identify voters’ priorities on specific governance issues, voters’ ratings of the government's performance on those issues, and factors affecting voting behaviour.

The National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) data released earlier this year also shows India's unemployment rate rose to a 45-year high during the year 2017-18 and reached 6.1%. Urban voters in Punjab have also listed water and air pollution, and better hospitals, primary health care centres their priorities. Whereas voters in Haryana’s urban areas think traffic congestion, water and air pollution must also be addressed by the governments on priority. However, it has also come to fore that voters of both these agrarian states believe that the Centre as well as the state government have performed below average on all these priority issues. Punjab has 13 Lok Sabha seats and Haryana 10.

In the neighbouring hilly state of Himachal Pradesh, which has four Lok Sabha constituencies, voters’ top three priorities include better employment opportunities, availability of water for agriculture and better hospitals as well as primary health care centres. Whereas in the urban areas of Himachal Pradesh, voters feel that school education and eradication of corruption are also the important issues which need to be addressed. Voters from Himachal Pradesh who participated in the survey said that the government has performed below average to address these issues.

Voters in Chandigarh, with single Lok Sabha seat, who participated in the survey felt that water and air pollution, noise pollution and better hospitals, primary health centres are the most important issues for them but they rated government’s performance as below average on these issues. In the Union budget for 2018-19, only 2.1% of the total budget has been allocated to healthcare, which is even lesser than 2.4% allocated in 2017-18.

After analyzing the outcome of the survey, the ADR has concluded, “Over the last two years, governments in power, both at the Centre and state/UT level, have neglected voters’ priorities. This is conspicuous in the poor and the underwhelming performance of a majority of governments across states/UTs on top governance issues as rated by their respective voters.” Therefore, the NGO has recommended that there is a need to re-set some of the priorities to reflect what the voters really need and to improve governance.

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