Prelims level : Polity / Governance – Misc Mains level : GS – II Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
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  • A nationwide survey involving more than 2.7 lakh people revealed that for 41.34% respondents, distribution of liquor, cash and freebies was an important factor behind voting a particular candidate in an election, according to the Association for Democratic Reforms.
  • This is the third all-India survey commissioned by the ADR. A total of 2,73,487 people across 534 Lok Sabha constituencies participated in it.
  • Though 97.86% interviewees felt that candidates with criminal background should not be in Parliament or State Assembly, 35.89% were willing to vote for a candidate with criminal records if the candidate had done good work in the past.
  • The survey has indicated that better employment opportunities and healthcare remain among the top priorities of voters. The respondents rated the government’s performance on 31 listed issues as below average.

Support for Public Needs:

  • On a scale of one to five, the respondents gave an average of 2.58 for better public transport, followed by 2.53 on the issue of electricity for domestic use and 2.52 for drinking water. The government’s performance on initiatives against river and lake water pollution was rated as 2.51; 2.48 for empowerment of women and security; just 1.37 on eradication of corruption; and 1.15 on the issue of terrorism.
  • As regards better employment opportunities, the interviewees gave a rating of 2.15; and on better health care, it was 2.35. They rated the government’s performance as 2.18 for availability of water for agriculture; 2.15 for agri-loan availability; and 2.23 for higher price realisation for farm products.
  • All throughout the survey better employment opportunities and better healthcare remain amongst the topmost voters’ priorities. Also, these two voters’ priorities have continued to remain at the top at all India level since 2017.

As per the survey,

  • Better employment opportunities (46.80%),
  • Better healthcare (34.60%) and
  • Drinking water (30.50%) were the top three priorities,

Followed by

  • Better roads (28.34%) and
  • Better public transport (27.35%).
  • In India, the culture of promising freebies in election manifesto has been spreading extensively. The ethicality and legality of such promises has been the subject of debate for a while now. This issue was brought to the forefront when the issue was tackled by the Supreme Court.

S.Subramaniam Balaji v. Government of Tamil Nadu

  • In the above case, the Court delved into the legality of promising freebies in election manifestos. The Court opined that freebies shook the ‘root of free and fair elections to a large degree.’
  • However, the distribution of colour TVs, laptops, mixer-grinders etc. by the government in accordance with the laws currently prevalent in the country cannot be ruled as being against ‘public purpose’.
  • The Supreme Court ruled that promises made in an election manifesto cannot be construed as a ‘corrupt practice’ under section 123 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. And since no legislation governs election manifestos, it directed the EC to frame appropriate guidelines.
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