Sunday, April 05, 2009

More village women may cast votes: Survey

PATNA: Members of panchayat bodies are the most-sought-after lot during polls as political parties consider them as the local persons who can
deliver votes. The ensuing Lok Sabha polls will test the role of panchayat body members, more so because this is the first election after the Nitish Kumar government reserved 50% of the panchayat body seats for women and 20% for extremely backward castes (EBCs).

The ruling JD(U)-BJP alliance is expecting handsome returns in the LS polls for its quota "achievement". However, a survey carried out by noted social scientist Dr Sachin Narayan appears to have a mixed message for the NDA. The survey was carried out in six blocks of Patna, Vaishali and Muzaffarpur districts in February-March, and 1200 and odd panchayat body members were contacted in connection with the survey.

As high as 95% of the respondents said that 95% of the women in villages were determined to exercise their franchise, an indication of increased participation of rural women in the democratic process. The survey has also suggested that hi-tech campaigning will have no impact on EBCs and Mahadalits as these sections - a majority of them - do not have access to cable TV and mobiles.

As many as 81% of the participants said the issue of development and the candidate's personality, and not party affiliation, would influence the polling pattern.

Interestingly, EBCs and Mahadalits appeared to have lost faith in the existing political leadership and were willing to field their own candidates. "There is a definite urge to develop local leadership and send persons in Parliament who could be their voice," said Dr Narayan, who is also a member of the state government's special task force on strengthening of panchayati raj system.