<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In 2014 general elections, when former chief minister of Maharashtra, Ashok Chavan emerged as one of the only two Congress candidates winners from the state, the worst-ever performance of the party since independence, people were surprised.Chavan was not only facing quid pro quo charges in the Adarsh Scam then, but had also lost CM’s chair in 2010 because of the allegations. And he isn’t alone. Several leaders across the state and also in India get elected to parliament, assembly and local bodies even as they battle charges of corruption and other criminal cases.A latest survey of Maharashtra voters suggest this victory is not a mere coincidence. Conducted mainly in small cities and semi-urban areas, the survey reveals that corruption is mostly a non-issue as far elections are concerned.”Not clean image, but candidates’ efficiency in driving community development is more important,” an overwhelming majority of voters (86%) have polled in Maharashtra.80-85 per cent voters agree that most candidates in the local body polls are corrupt, rich candidates “buy” elections, most belong to political families and have criminal background, the survey claimed in startling revelations.Apart from efficiency, accessibility and education are among the top three characteristics which voters would look for in their candidates in the upcoming elections. “A degree-holder, below 40” seems to be a clear choice this time.Titled as “A pre-poll survey of voters’ perceptions”, the survey was held from 7 to 17 October among 3,000 voters across Maharashtra. Conducted by Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics (Pune), the survey is an initiative of the State Election Commission, Maharashtra.The survey was conducted in the areas governed by 18 Councils and Nagar Panchayats which are slated to go to polls from mid-November to March next year.The survey findings are significant and have the potential to force the political parties to race against the time and revise their strategies.Despite massive coverage against criminalisation and corruption in media, it is surprising that neither of the issues is a priority among voters. Most respondents were vocal about the “menace of corruption” and “importance of clean image” during informal chat but when it came to listing out three top characteristics of the candidates, they chose other virtues.Professor Mansi Phadke who spearheaded the survey, sought to analyse the voters’ strange priority. “It indicates resilience of voters towards corruption. They seem to have accepted that candidates are anyway corrupt and contest polls for personal gains. So, they simply look for other virtues that may nullify the corruption impact and get them a better standard of living.”

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Not clean image, it’s competency which matters, say Maharashtra voters