NEW DELHI (AFP) – Indian voters believe corruption has risen under the current government, but say the economy will be the most important issue in elections due next year, according to a new poll.
A total of 69 percent of respondents in the major survey published this week by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) said they thought corruption had risen since the last elections in 2009.
But despite major public protests in 2011 and intense media coverage of a succession of graft scandals, the issue is only ranked as the fifth most important for voters as they decide who to vote for.
Twelve percent of more than 20,000 respondents said the economy was the most important issue, followed by price rises of essential goods (11 percent), governance (10 percent) and leadership (nine percent).
Corruption was named as the most important issue by only six percent of people.
"It was an open-ended question," Shreyas Sardesai, a research officer at CSDS, told AFP of the findings, which showed 40 percent had no opinion. "The issues that concern people the most are day-to-day issues."
The data was collected in face-to-face interviews across the country and offers a rare, reliable snapshot of public opinion in a country with generally weak opinion polls.
The data, published by The Hindu newspaper and the CNN-IBN television network, showed that the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party was considered better at handling corruption and economic crises than the ruling Congress party.
Congress, headed by Sonia Gandhi, faces a fight to return to power for a third consecutive term after a troubled four years in power marked by a rapidly slowing economy.
Gross domestic product is currently growing at its slowest pace in a decade, at about 5.0 percent on an annual basis.