Local issues, rather than the party or the candidates, dominate voters' perception in Maharashtra which is going to the polls on October 15 according to a survey conducted by the Association of Democratic Reforms and women's rights group Daksha among 20,741 voters spread across 36 districts of the state, make it a fairly substantial reality check on the mood of the electorate.

The survey was done on a marking system on a scale of 10. People were asked to give marks to issues they thought were important in their localities.

The voters of Mumbai city which has witnessed several terrorists attacks, including 26/11, still reeling under stress as they cited control over terrorism as the top electoral issue followed by corruption. On the other hand, voters of Mumbai suburban districts cited corruption as the top issue.

The issue of terrorism is haunting neighbouring Thane district as well, which has recently seen a couple of youths joining the ISIS with one of them even losing his life in the civil war in Iraq. The survey also highlights corruption, illegal constructions and encroachment on public land as other major issues. The illegal construction is so rampant in Thane that after collapse of a building in Mumbra, which took 74 lives in 2013, even government admitted that 80% buildings in the district are illegal.

Interestingly, the voters from Satara, Pune and Sindhudurg — the home turfs of former CM Prithviraj Chavan, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar and revenue minister Narayan Rane — cited corruption as the top issue. The voters rated their MLAs poorly accusing them of failing to eradicate corruption. On the other hand, for the voters of Vidarbha region loan waivers, MNREGS, scarcity of water are the core issues.

What do city dwellers feel are the big issues?
Mumbaikars feel that the inflation, corruption and disposal of garbage has made their life worse in the past few years. "These issues are hounding us for the past many years but the government failed to deliver. More shockingly, the Congress and the NCP which colluded in corruption for 15 years are now shifting the blame on each other after the break-up. The BJP-Sena led BMC has also failed us," said Sonal Shinde, a banker.

What are the main issues in the districts?
In most of the districts, eradication of corruption was the primary concern of those surveyed. For example, in Satara employment generation got an average of 5 points out of 10 compared with eradication of corruption which got 4.9 and water supply issues 5.6 points. Across the districts of Sindhudurg, Satara and Raigad, corruption scored close to 5 points. Inflation or price rise too worried people in many places llike Raigad where it got 8.6 points in terms of importance out of 10 marks or points.

What are the other issues that are at the top of the mind?
When projected across the state, more than 65,78 per cent of those surveyed said that security of women was the main iusse. These were followed by eradication of corruption 65.12 per cent, inflation 64.13 per cent.

Does political issues and candidates dominate in any area?
Only 9% of the Maharashtra voters said that the caste and religion of the candidate were the decisive factors while casting their votes. The survey breaks another myth that votes can be purchased in exchange of money, liquor or gifts. Less than 5% of voters across the state said free gifts were more important than other factors like candidate's work or name of the party.

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