The Times of India

MUMBAI: Over 70% of voters in Maharashtra are willing to ignore the criminal record of poll candidates because they feel such candidates have done "good work". Also, 52% of voters choose such candidates if they belong to their own caste or religion.

The findings are of a survey conducted by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and the NGO Daksh. The survey attempts to gauge voter priorities so that elections can be fought on voter issues and manifestos reflect such issues.

It found that voters give more importance to a party and its prime ministerial candidate than its nominee for a particular constituency.

The ADR-Daksh's survey, conducted nationwide, has a sample size of 2.5 lakh people at about 10,000 locations in over 500 constituencies. Thus, there are at least 500 respondents in each constituency, who have been demographically randomized. Among other things, the respondents were asked to rate MPs on a scale of 10 and to indicate the top 10 pressing issues. MPs were rated as good, bad and average on governance issues like employment, water, electricity, roads, food, education and health.

In Maharashtra, the lowest scoring MP is Priya Dutt (Congress; Mumbai North Central) with a rating of 4.01. In increasing order after her are Congress MPs Milind Deora (Mumbai South; 4.63), Nilesh Rane (Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg; 4.82), Eknath Gaikwad (Mumbai South Central; 4.91), Sanjay Nirupam (Mumbai North; 5.21), Gurudas Kamat (Mumbai North West; 6.33). The highest rated is Maval MP Babar G Dhamshi of the Shiv Sena, who got 8.4 points, followed by the BJP's Harischandra Deoram Chavan (Dindori; 7.43). NCP MP Sanjay Dina Patil (Mumbai North East) is at 5.3.

"The survey has also tried to identify the gap between voters' expectations on governance issues and the performance of MPs on those issues. If the score on voters' expectations is more than MPs' performance score, it means voters are unhappy," said Sharad Kumar, state co-ordinator, Maharashtra Election Watch (MEW). Only five MPs from the state have exceeded peoples' expectations.

The average performance rating of 48 MPs from Maharashtra is 5.92 on a scale of 10; only 12 MPs have performed above average.

When it comes to issues, better roads, drinking water and schools are the top three concerns. In rural areas, power for domestic and agricultural use, price realization for farm products, subsidy for seeds and fertilizers, hospitals, employment and irrigation are the top concerns.

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