The Times of India

How different are India’s two biggest metros from the rest of the country when it comes to elections and voting behaviour? How do they compare on awareness? What are the major considerations when voting? To what extent does money and crime affect them? 

    These questions have been answered in the country’s largest ever voter survey of over 2.5 lakh voters in about 525 Lok Sabha constituencies carried out by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) with the help of Daksh, a Bangalore-based NGO. 

    The survey also looks at how Delhi and Mumbai compare with the rest of the country on governance issues like employment, basic essential services, law and order and infrastructure. Also how do the metros’ voters rate the performance on governance? 

    As the graphic shows, there are some significant differences. In Delhi, voters give much greater importance to the local candidate than to the party or the PM candidate. On a scale, Delhi voters give a weightage of 8.74 to the local candidate, 7.36 to the party and 6.77 to the PM candidate. Mumbai, on the other hand, gives maximum weightage to the party, followed by the PM candidate with the local candidate coming the last. In both metros and rest of India, voters claim that caste or religion doesn’t matter, and neither does the distribution of money, liquor and gifts. 

    On the issue of candidates with serious criminal cases, only 14% of the Delhi respondents were willing to give an answer. All of them said we should not vote for such candidates but one is not sure if this is a just a pious intention. In Mumbai, however, 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 open to facing this question as only 55% of respondents around India were willing to answer it compared to 93.6% in Mumbai. 

    On awareness of basic electoral laws and availability of information, the two metros 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%. 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 of 34%. Voter awareness of the fact that criminal records of candidates are publicly available is very low with Delhi at 

54.5%, Mumbai at 43.9% and India as a whole at only 35.1%. Asked why people vote for candidates with serious criminal records, the major reason given was that the candidate otherwise does good work. Issues like caste, religion and spending in elections were not seen to be significant. 

    On voter priorities, the two metros seem to be most demanding. A list of 30 items was given to the respondents. They were to identify each issue as either very important, important or not important. Delhi found almost everything very important. The average importance score on a 10-point scale was 9.17. Mumbai had a score of 8.56 while India trailed behind with 7.69. 

    The top priorities that are common to Delhi and Mumbai are drinking water, healthcare, law and order, roads, public transport, security of women and lower prices. Delhi gives greater weightage to electricity supply, schools, employment and a strong defence whereas Mumbai gives greater preference to reducing traffic congestion, trust in the MP, garbage clearance and corruption. 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 for farmers. 

    How do the voters’ rate the performance of the 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 against an importance score of 8.56 and for India it’s 5.85 compared to an importance score of 7.6. 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. At 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 reducing traffic congestion, more trust in the MP, garbage clearance and removal of corruption. 

    ( T h e w r i t e r w o rk s a s P r of e s s o r, I n d i a n I n s t i t u t e o f M a n a g e m e n t, B a n g a l o r e ) 

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