Really, sometime I laugh when people ask me, what are the main election issues in Uttar Pradesh election. There are long boring debates on TV channels about issues and trends. These things might have an effect on urban educated middle class, but THEY DO NOT VOTE. So, what really decides results of election? Let us have a closer understanding how politics works in rural areas.
In todays’ time and in a state as backward as UP, everybody has one problem or other with the system. People don’t really care if that problem belong to the whole community, ie. electricity, road, unemployment. But an individual voter is very very concerned about his personal problems where he might need help of some political leader, ie. avoiding problems with police, getting arms licence, some source in government office etc. So everybody tries to form a relation with one or two local leaders. Now who will help you in such illegal acts? Someone who is your own caste, from your own village, somehow related to you. So this process leads to local blocks of influence of a local leader. He gets work done, so people are with him.
Now, every district has 20-30 such influential leaders or families who can get your work done. They command their own blocks of influence. Their supporters will vote for them in spite of their political party. Now these 20-30 people fight for tickets from 4-5 major parties so that they can gain voters loyal to that particular party. The percentage of voters loyal to party is very low in UP, may be 40% in urban areas but less than 20% in rural areas. These leaders anticipate mood of neutral voters (say 20%) and try to align themselves with that mood. So the stocks of ticket from party A to B keep going up and down in every election. These local leaders change loyalties in every election based on opportunity and local equations. So the job of all major political parties is to attract these influential leaders to its fold.
So, the issues like corruption/poverty/unemployment are only talking points, they do not affect large number of people’s choice on voting machine. However these issues do change mind of 10-15% concerned citizens, but alas they don’t vote in large numbers.