While there’s a consensus by now that the slew of welfare schemes announced by the AAP government during its tenure, particularly in the last six-seven months, played a major role in its second successive landslide victory, we are yet to know the exact extent of their impact on this election and the degree to which they determined voting choices.
In our poll-eve survey thus, to find an answer to this curiosity, we asked voters if they or any member of their household had benefited from five of the free schemes that the Kejriwal government has implemented — one, the free electricity scheme for households consuming 200 units of electricity and a 50% subsidy for those consuming between 200 and 400 units; second, the water subsidy scheme that provides every household 20,000 litres of water free of cost every month; third, the waiver of water bill arrears scheme; fourth, the free bus rides scheme for women; and fifth, the scheme under which people can avail of free medicines, tests and surgeries in government hospitals.
The findings thrown up by the survey to these five questions are truly remarkable for the extent to which many of these welfare measures have touched Delhi’s population.
As many as 77%, or over three-fourths of the 3,335 voters interviewed reported that their household has been getting decreased electricity bills during the last few months; 66% or two-thirds reported getting reduced water bills; 37% said their household has benefited from the waiving of water bill arrears; 50% said that a woman in their household had benefited from the free bus rides scheme; and 51% reported that either they or a member of their household had availed of free medicines, tests and surgeries at Delhi government hospitals.
The survey also found that the impact of these schemes is not just limited to economically worse off sections, but has touched a significant proportion of middle- and upper-class households too. While 77% households with a monthly income of less than Rs 10,000 reported getting reduced power bills, 71% of even the wealthiest households with monthly incomes in excess of Rs 50,000 reported having to pay lesser money for electricity consumption. Similarly, not only have three-fifths of households earning less than Rs 10,000 a month availed of free medicines and tests at government hospitals, even one-third of economically well-off households have done so.
Overall, on creating an index of all five free scheme-related questions, we found that nearly three- fifths (57%) of Delhi’s households have benefited from at least 3 of the 5, and it is precisely among this section that the AAP performed exceedingly well during the elections.
AAP received 79% votes among the 16% respondents who said their household has benefited from all 5 free schemes; 69% from voters who reported that their household has benefitted from 4 of the 5 schemes; and 54% from voters who said their household has benefited from 3 of the 5 subsidies. Significantly, only 8% voters said their household does not benefit from a single subsidy. Among them, AAP’s vote share was merely 17%. Survey data indicates a clear correlation between having benefited from subsidies and voting for AAP.
(The author is associated with Lokniti-CSDS)