Employment opportunities, transport and women empowerment are key issues in the Himachal Pradesh Assembly polls while caste, religion and the top leadership also matter, a survey has found.
The survey also found that as many as 70 percent people felt that the criminal record of a candidate could be ignored if he or she had done good work.
The survey conducted by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), an NGO working in the area of electoral and political reforms, revealed that jobs, public transport, empowerment and security of women, trustworthiness of candidates, environment, electric supply, roads, drinking water and law and order were the top issues in Himachal.
The other main issues in rural areas were price realisation of farm products, electricity for agriculture and irrigation programmes.
In urban areas, the people were more concerned about facilities for pedestrians and cyclists on roads, traffic congestion, training for jobs and encroachment of public land. The survey said that caste and religion of candidate played an important role in elections followed by the prime ministerial or chief ministerial face while candidates were given a lesser priority.
According to the survey, 73 per cent people vote for candidates facing criminal charges because they were of the same caste or religion, the survey said.
As many as 70 percent people ignore the criminal record if the candidates had done good work, according to the ADR survey.
The factors for voting for criminal candidates according to the survey were – powerful candidate (21.90 percent), spending in elections (17.77 percent), cases not serious (79. 66 percent), voters are ignorant about criminal cases (65. 39 percent).
Further, 28.19 percent people were aware that gifts for votes were illegal, 60.48 percent were aware that candidates were distributing gifts while 55.
66 percent people knew that they can access the criminal record of the candidate.
The objective of the survey was to know the expectations of voters, their perceptions and evaluation of important issues for the voters in their particular region in terms of their capacity, governance and specific roles in improving the living conditions of the voters, a spokesman of ADR said.