ELECTIONS 2019, LOK SABHA ELECTIONS 2019 : New Delhi: More citizens approach the sarpanch or councillor to get work done over elected representatives to State assemblies (MLA) and the Parliament (MP), according to a survey - Politics and Society between Elections, released by Azim Premji University in collaboration with Lokniti.

Stressing on the need for local governance, the report said that elected local governments bring citizens closer to the state. According to the report, in rural regions 32% would approach a sarpanch while 15% respondents said they would approach a local political leader to get important work done.

The third report in the collaboration between Azim Premji University and Lokniti (CSDS) released on Tuesday was conducted in 2018 and covers 12 States including Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, and Delhi. They surveyed 24,000 people, approximately 2000 people per state.

Meanwhile, it is slightly lower among urban residents. 19% said they would approach the ward councillor followed by 14% who would approach government officials and the MLA. The report also suggests that 50% of respondents prefer to approach a leader from the same caste or religion as themselves.

“These results also indicate the growing importance of local governments in India given that a large number of respondents repose faith in the district collector, and a significant number approach municipal corporator or sarpanch in order to get important work done," the report said.

The survey researched several issues seen as key in a democracy between the elections, including the institutions they trust, access to public services and other governance issues. Ahead of elections in the country, the survey said that the key issues concerning citizens were unemployment, development, law, governance and corruption.

Even as there may be a growing dependence on local leadership, studies point out that there may be a lack of authority with local leaders. According to Janaagraha’s annual survey of India’s city-systems 2017 mayors don’t have full decision making authority.

“Mayor and Councillors, the elected leaders of a city, are not the ones in charge of several key functions in a city. Fragmentation of governance and low levels of empowerment renders them toothless," the Janaagraha report said.

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