The ruling party in Tamil Nadu has performed below average in creating employment opportunities, ensuring primary healthcare and providing drinking water to its citizens, which are the top three priorities of voters this election, according to a survey by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).
The survey comes at a time when the ruling AIADMK is already facing tough opposition from DMK and its alliances in the upcoming assembly bypolls.
The survey, which covered about 19,500 respondents across 39 parliamentary constituencies, shows the ruling party performed below average in all the top 10 priorities of voters in the urban area. The AIADMK scored less than average in providing better employment opportunities (2.25 on a scale of 5), better hospitals/primary healthcare centres (2.34), and drinking water (2.41).
In rural Tamil Nadu, the top three priorities were availability of water for irrigation, loan for agriculture and subsidies for seeds and fertilisers. In these heads the AIADMK scored 2.19, 2.14 and 2.35 out of 5, respectively.
According to the survey, the government has also performed poorly on getting a higher price realisation for farm products (2.29) and better employment opportunities (2.3) in the rural areas.
Voters’ opinion on how the ruling AIADMK has performed on their priorities may shape their votes in the upcoming election. The state is going for polling in the phase II of the Lok Sabha elections on April 18 in all 39 parliament seats. Besides the 22 assembly by-polls.
Apart from the performance of the ruling party, factors such as the profile of the candidate, the party he/she belongs to and their chief ministerial candidate may influence the voters’ decision.
Also read: Bypolls matter more for Dravidian majors than LS seats in TN
According to the Tamil Nadu Survey 2018, 54% of the respondents feel that the candidate is important while 48% said the candidate’s party is the most significant reason while deciding on a vote in an election. About 44% of the respondents stated that the CM candidate is important while voting for a candidate in the election.
Interestingly, 18% of voters (3,500 people) admitted that distribution of cash, liquor, gifts was an important factor while voting for a particular candidate in an election.
Also read: Caste inequations: Is the AIADMK coming apart?
As per the survey, 98% of voters felt that candidates with criminal background should not be in Parliament or State Assembly. However, another ADR report shows that out of 802 candidates contesting in Tamil Nadu Lok Sabha elections 2019, 101 candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves. Sixty-seven of these candidates have serious criminal cases against them.
While 33 independent parties standing in the upcoming election have reported serious criminal cases against them, the DMK has seven such candidates, Congress, four and AIADMK, three.
Despite criminal cases, 35% of voters said that people vote for criminal candidates because the candidate is powerful and they feel that the cases against such candidates are not of serious nature.
Other factors for voting candidates also depends on the amount of money they spend for election campaigns, according to the survey. About 23% of the candidates standing for this election have assets worth over Rs 1 crore.
The Congress candidate, Vasanthakumar H from Kanniyakumari is the richest contender with assets worth over Rs 417 crore. He is a businessman and runs a successful retail chain all over the state. He is followed by an independent candidate, E Subaya from Chennai South, who has declared assets worth over Rs 237 crore. The AIADMK’s AC Shanmugam is the third richest candidate in Tamil Nadu with declared assets of over Rs 125 crore.
Meanwhile, independent candidates N Paneerselvan from Vellore, Senthilkumar S from Virudhunagar, and Vedarethinam G from Anti-Corruption Dynamic Party have declared zero assets.
The average assets per candidate contesting in Tamil Nadu in the Lok Sabha elections is Rs 3.46 crore. The candidates who have declared the total annual income of over Rs 1 crore include DMK’s Dayanidhi Maran, Gautham Sigamani Pon, DM Kathir Anand, Gnanathiraviam, Congress’ Vasanthakumar H, Karti P Chidambaram, Vishnuprasad M K and AIADMK’s AC Shanmugam.