Caste and religion hold a five-point weightage on a scale of 10

About 62 per cent of the voters in Tamil Nadu found candidates with criminal records acceptable if their work in the constituency was good.

Similarly, caste and religion held only a five-point weightage on a scale of 10, while the party and the candidate were the top factors that determined voting behaviour, according to a survey released by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR).

The ADR-Daksh has released a survey of voter perception of candidates in 27 constituencies, along with a list of voter priorities in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

The factors that people weighed while voting were “party, PM candidate, caste/religion and gifts distribution in that order,” says the survey.

For 62.71 per cent of the voters, the criminal record of the candidate was inconsequential, if the candidate had done a good work; and 45.80 per cent voted for such a candidate based on caste/religion; 49.03 per cent were not aware of the criminal antecedents of the candidate.

Random selection

The survey of MPs’ performance rates 27 MPs on a random selection of constituencies, based on voters’ perception on governance (water, employment, roads, health, food and education). Only five MPs have performed ‘above average,’ according to people’s perception (average performance value is 6.67 points).

The top three were Aaron Rashid of the Congress from Theni (6.96), Abdul Rehman of the DMK from Vellore (6.92), Manicka Tagore of the Congress from Virudhunagar (6.78). The lowest scorer was K. Sugumar of the AIADMK from Pollachi.

Speaking to The Hindu, P. Sudarshan, coordinator, Tamil Nadu Election Watch, ADR, says: “ADR’s survey focussed on people’s perception and may not reflect the MP’s actual performance in Parliament.”

“Tirunelveli MP Ramasubbu [of the Congress] has scored 5.88 points as per people’s perception. But he has asked the maximum number of questions in the Lok Sabha,” Mr. Sudarshan says

Significant divide

There is a significant divide in the top three priorities in rural and urban areas. While better hospitals/PHCs, roads, schools, transport, and electricity supply are top five priority issues for rural voters, drinking water, corruption, employment opportunities, food prices, and electricity are the top priorities for urban voters. Interestingly, for rural voters, eradication of corruption was the last factor for consideration. For urban voters, it was the top second factor.