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Voting Behavior and it's distorted Determinants
Author: Kriti dheer
In a democracy, a government is chosen by voting. Voting behavior is one of the most important factors in setting up the righteous leader in power. It provides recognition of opinions and choices in democracy; it is the agent of change in a country. But we are nullifying its significance by getting entrapped in the sugar-coated fake promises of the leaders. Our personal ideologies, believes, and biases while choosing government leads the country in wrong hands. Therefore, it is voters who need to establish new standards for their own country's better future in terms of voting, because the reason behind failed governments and unfulfilled promises are the voters themselves. Furthermore, the voting behavior must be garnished with national and secular perspective instead of personal interest.
Voting behavior of the general public delineates that what kind of candidate they choose to lead them. It is not only confined to examining stats of voting in accordance to the elector shifts but it also involves the human psycho-analytical power in reference to the political atmosphere. In case of Indian voting behavior it is not always a rational analysis but is brimful of casteist influences, mass manipulations, minority fears and racist divisions which later on lead to disappointment due to inefficient government.
None other than the biased nature of the voting behavior of a voter puts the country in distress and unease. The role of political parties and pressure groups in invoking religious and communal factors, the influence of money or charismatic personality of a leader and a host of other irrational forces have their definite influence on the minds of the voters. The leaders which we choose through our prejudiced instincts work accordingly. People while voting forgets that the voting and socio-political development goes hand-in-hand.
Determinants of voting
Citizens of India enjoy their full freedom and understanding in voting power; parties try to capture uttermost votes they can attain through any means as votes are their tickets to win the battle of the ballot box. For this they tend to study the voter's behavior; voter's behavior is influenced by several factors like religion, language, money, community, policy, ideologies etc. Appeals are made and tempting campaigns are conducted for the same purpose. The force of charismatic slogans is used like “Garibi Hatao”, “make in India”, “Indira means India, India means Indira”, “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” and others correlative. Some of the basic political determinants are:
Ø Caste: Caste continues to be the biggest determinant of voting behavior in the past 5 decades in India. Politicisation of caste and casteism in politics has been a well-known reality of the Indian political system. It has deep roots in the society and constitutes an important basis of social relations at all levels. The political parties in India formulate their policies and election strategies always keeping in mind the caste factor. Even the candidates are selected keeping the caste factor in mind. Discriminating slogans like “Jaat ka vote jaat ko” are used openly to please the voters on to vote for the candidates belonging to their caste.
Ø Religion: It is a fact that religion plays an important role especially where both the followers Hindus and Muslims are situated in a constituency. This gave a support to Religion based parties. The existence of political parties and neo-political groups like Muslim League, Akali Dal, Hindu Maha Sabha, Shiv Sena etc., have been one of the reasons behind the continued role of religion as a determinant of voting behavior.
Ø Language: India is a multi-lingual state. Since people have an emotional attachment with their languages, they easily get influenced whenever any issue concerned with their language and identity props up during elections. Linguism also serves as an important factor in voting behavior.
Ø Public esteem of candidate: A voter prefers to vote for a candidate who is well known for his qualities or contribution to any valuable spread of activity. His internal party relation and views over issues also take account of his public image. Adding to it the belief in the party also plays an important role in the mind of voters. A voter prefers to vote for a candidate who is approachable and who can help him anyway.
Ø Ideologies: The ideology and social behavior of the politician also collides in minds of the voters. People tend to vote for political parties which pledge to solve their issues and have the agenda which falls in line with their own expectations and ideologies. In some cases even people decide to vote for a particular party without analyzing the ability of the candidate; what appeals to them is the complementing ideologies of the candidate.
Ø Development: Development factor is practiced in developing economies like India. It is a sign of old and smooth running democratic system. It is expected that this is the main and desirable factor that should play a big role in determining the voting behavior. Yet the view that voters prefer candidates who they perceive to be “sunny optimists” is almost a political convention.
Ø Performance of party in power: Each Political party contests elections on the basis of an election manifesto, and after coming into power, it is expected to fulfill the promises made therein. Good or bad performance of the ruling party, just on the basis of the election promises made and promises actually fulfilled influence the basic behavior of the people in a big way. People are ready to shift their support from one party to another on the basis of their performance.