New Delhi

A survey of voters that polled about 2.6 lakh respondents spanning 527 constituencies in India identified “better employment opportunities” as the foremost issue on the their minds, even as country goes to national polls. Among other agenda items that the survey -- conducted jointly by Association for Democratic Reforms and Daksh -- threw up were other development-related issues such as better roads and cleaner drinking water, etc. Is the survey, then, any indication that issues such as jobs have eclipsed long-present considerations such as caste-based voting that have dogged Indian elections? Also read: India on course for record general election turnout “Despite issues such as employment came out tops in our survey, we found out that about 38 percent of voters of our respondents said that caste is a relevant factor when they vote,” Harish Narasappa, co-founder and president, Daksh, told CNBC-TV18’s Sonia Shenoy and Latha Venkatesh in an interview. Another way to look at it is this: “if parties are not differentiating themselves on issues of development-related opportunities, caste comes into play as a factor to distinguish,” he said. Narasappa said that in states like Tamil Nadu and Kerala where women were involved in more economic activities, caste became an unimportant factor. “Otherwise, even amongst people who we consider educated or who work in knowledge-based industries such as IT, we still find the same percentage of voters who think of caste as a relevant factor as say, those employed in agriculture.”

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