The Times of India

MUMBAI: A voter perception survey for Maharashtra has rated its legislators below average, with the security of women, corruption and inflation featuring among the top pressing issues.

The survey was conducted on 20,000 respondents in all 288 assembly segments by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Daksh.

The average performance rating given to legislators was 5.28 while the average importance of issues was rated as 7.52 on a scale of 10 by the voters, indicating a significant gap between voters' expectations on governance issues and legislators' performance.

Voters perceive security for women, eradication of corruption and inflation to be the top three issues. However, the performance of legislators on these issues is well below average. Performance in tackling corruption was considered the lowest at 4.68 while combating inflation scored 4.88. Voters scored legislators at 5.2 in addressing concerns for safety of women and 5.28 in handling waste management.

The survey also tried to identify the most important factors that people took into account before voting for a particular candidate. Voters in Maharashtra gave more importance to the trustworthiness of the candidate than any other factor like the candidate's party or religion. The chief ministerial candidate of a party and caste/religion of the candidate were among the lowest in priority for voters.

The results of the assessment show striking differences between voters' priorities and representatives' performance on those issues. The survey highlighted the overall inadequate efforts of all institutions in fulfilling their role in providing what voters really need.

The primary aim of the assessment was to evaluate the effectiveness of elected representatives, government institutions, mechanisms in terms of planning and providing for the needs of the country and fostering transparency and integrity.

In addition, ADR and Daksh said they hoped the process would act as a springboard for action among the government and civil society organizations in terms of policy reforms, evidence-based advocacy, or further in-depth evaluation of specific governance issues and serve as a basis for key stakeholders to advocate sustainable and effective reforms.

The larger purpose of the survey was to highlight voter priorities so that they are reflected in the election agenda and manifestos of political parties. It is also to ensure that electoral debates are on voters' issues rather than the agenda imposed by parties.

"It is hoped that manifestos of future governments will reflect these voter priorities," said a statement by the two organizations.

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