This Lok Sabha elections, voters are more concerned about issues related to economy than caste and religion, according to a study released on Wednesday.
The study, conducted by Lok Foundation and the University of Pennsylvania’s Centre for the Advanced Study of India (Casi), tracked 70,000 respondents across 24 states as the first of a five-year initiative to find out changing social attitudes on major issues.
Releasing the report, director of Casi Devesh Kapur said, “Good economics is good politics”, and pointed out now the voters were state centric and that people from different caste and income groups had similar views on economic issues — for respondents from UP and Bihar unemployment and corruption were the top concerns, while voters from southern Indian states raised issues related to urban development.
Commenting on the study, Surjit Bhalla, chairman of Oxus Research and Investments, said it was now clear that over the past two decades the Indian voters have moved away from caste and other “non-issues” like secularism and noted that even a segment of Muslims was now supporting parties on economic agenda. He, however, disputed the conclusions of the study on corruption, saying. “I would say in voter behaviour, measuring change matters. There is no evidence that corruption has influenced voter behaviour even in Delhi, but the change in inflation has.”
The report stated that in this Lok Sabha elections, the NDA was a clear favourite with 31 per cent respondents vouching for the BJP-led tie-up against 23 per cent for the Congress-led UPA.
The study, conducted between September and December 2013, revealed that voters were still comfortable with candidates with criminal records and that they support their caste.Only a third of the voters said caste influences their decision on a candidate.