Too many take cash for votes in southern India: Study


New Delhi : They may be among India’s best performing states, but when it comes to elections, a very large number of voters in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu take bribes to vote. So says the Delhi-based Centre for Media Studies.

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Similar bribery is also endemic in areas of influence of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the study indicates. States ruled by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) fare slightly better.

However, similar corruption is least in states governed by the Left, says the survey conducted among 41,000 voters in 19 states and billed as the first-ever empirical study on cash for votes.

The bribe taking voters also come from all sections of society: urban and rural, the poor and not-so-poor, as well as the educated and the barely literate, says CMS.

“Even in Delhi, 25 percent of the voters received money for their vote,” says the CMS survey.

The study took a sample size of 18,000 voters in 19 states in 2008 and 23,000 households belonging to the below poverty line (BPL) category in 2007. It did not cover other inducements like liquor or freebies for votes and focussed only on the assembly and Lok Sabha elections.

The national average of people who took cash to cast their votes was found to be 22 percent in the general category and 37 percent in BPL families.

Some percentages are alarming. In Andhra Pradesh, 94 percent of BPL category voters had accepted money to vote, followed by Tamil Nadu with 78 percent, Karnataka and Chhattisgarh with 73 percent, Assam with 56 percent and Orissa with 50 percent.

In the general category, Karnataka topped the list with 47 percent, followed by Tamil Nadu 34 percent, Madhya Pradesh, 33, and Andhra Pradesh and Bihar 31 percent each.

Prosperous states like Gujarat and Maharashtra reported 24 percent and 13 percent general category voters respectively taking money, while among the BPL households the figure is 32 percent for both states.

The CMS study revealed that 27 percent of voters accepted money in states ruled by NDA partners, and the figure was 25 percent in constituencies represented by BJP MPs.

The states ruled by UPA partners reported 21 percent voters getting bribes to vote and in constituencies with Congress MPs the figure was 19 percent.

The lowest figure – of 13 percent – was in states ruled by Left parties like Kerala, West Bengal and Tripura and similarly for the Bahujan Samaj Party.

Meanwhile, 38 percent of voters in the age group of 18-35 years among the BPL families had their palms greased while the figure was 22 percent in the general category. Those who were graduates and above represented 44 percent voters among the BPL groups and 24 percent in general category, the study said.