Motivation Theories Explaining Voters Behaviour In The General Elections 2004



                     The outcome of the recent elections to the Lok Sabha and A.P assembly in India has taken the whole world, including India by surprise.

Various explanations are being offered , both by political pandits as well as self-serving political players for this reversal of fortunes, which has witnessed the Indian national congress led alliance displaced the BJP led alliance NDA at centre and TDP at state of A.P.

                  It is argued that NDA’s campaign slogan of ‘shining India’ to project the sense of ‘feeling good’ which was believed to have permeated India became counter productive. It was believed that large number of voters did not feel  that good because the light from ‘shining India’ failed to brighten up their miserable lives.

                  The polls in India were seen to reflect a rejection of NDA and TDP and a vote of protest against their pursuit  of market –oriented reforms as with all such sweeping assumptions about political changes in India ,usually based on rather sketchily information, the facts are somewhat at variance with the reality.

                  This paper is designed to analyze more closely  the actual voting behavior of the Indian electorate by providing rationale from the popular motivation theories of management literature.

                  The voters in India , mostly the more numerically large deprived classes, have indicated that they are far from satisfied with the out come of India’s reform process. This is with out prejudice to the outcome of the unending debate amongst  India’s economists as to whether poverty has significantly been reduce or not . The electorate in India, over the last quarter of a century,  have cast their vote with reasonable consistency.

                  Media pandits and political commentators of all hues and shapes are now coming out with interesting reasons for the unexpected defeat of the BJP and NDA government. Almost everything has been blamed, right from

misgovernance  anti incumbency, bad alliance , ignoring poor, unemployment, rural-urban divide, liberalization and globalization. Each of these issues are important. However if one looks at the comparative experience of the democracies elsewhere , Indian voters are no irrational fools for they have a verdict based on their everyday perception of bread and butter issues rather than  hot-button ideological or moral issues. Indian voters also take fluctuations in their material and social conditions seriously, leading them to reward  or punish incumbent  governments accordingly.

                Consider the following explanations from the Herzberg and Malsow’s theories of motion to support the verdict given by voters in the general elections-2004.

Herzberg’s motivation –Hygene theory

                      According to Herzberg , there are two categories of needs essentially independent of  each other effecting human behavior  in various ways. He argued that there are ten maintenance factors necessary  to maintain a reasonable levels of satisfaction in workers. Any increase beyond this level will not provide any satisfaction to the people; however any cut below this level will dissatisfy them.

                    They are the minimum things to be provided to make them satisfied. Herzberg maintains that there are 6 motivational factors. An increase in these will satisfy the people, however decrease  will not effect the satisfaction of the people . Hence these are called motivational factors.


Abraham Maslow, a famous social scientists has given a frame work that helps to explain the strength of certain needs  and motivation. The behavior of an individual at a particular movement is usually determined by his/her strongest need. Psychologists’ claim that, needs have a certain priority. As the more basic needs are satisfied, an individual seeks to satisfy the higher needs. If his basic needs are not met, efforts to satisfy the higher needs should be postponed.



1.     Self Actualization Needs

2.     Esteem Needs

Group -A

3.     Social Needs

4.     Safety Needs

5.     Basic Needs

                            The poor in the rural and urban areas, the rural middle classes, educated and less educated unemployed knew that they had a weapon in their hands, the vote, and they used it as a mark of protest.

They did what they could. It worked. However the  problems  remained.

                             The NDA  govt. at centre and  TDP Govt at A.P. tried to satisfy the higher order needs of  the people with out satisfying the basic needs. This government concentrated on Information Technology, Asian Games, Golden Quadrilateral  , Disco pubs, e-service, e-governance(group B) but failed to provide social security, housing , lower prices for essential commodities etc… (groupA).


-         drinking water

-         water for cultivation

-         safety  and security for lives

-         power

-         medical aid at low prices

-         supply of essential commodities at reasonable prices

-         employment

-         education


-         Information  .Technology

-         Disco theks,  pubs

-         E-governance

-         E-seva centers

-         Golden quadrilateral

-         Globalization

-         Privatization


           The voters in this largest democracy gave their verdict against the ruling coalition in may 2004.They don’t know anything about theory and practice of democracy and development. They don’t use words like empowerment, good governance, disinvestment, globalization and privatization. But they have both sense and common sense… their biggest problem is day to day existence. For generations they have lived in poverty despite hard work and patience but thy believed in the promise made to them by the rulers in whom they had faith. But after a long wait they see unemployment increasing, all natural assets which were their sources of livelihood disappearing and the compulsions that led them away from home with uncertain hope to get work elsewhere are becoming stronger. Denied adequate investment, agriculture too has been hit hard and peasants have been committing suicides. Education as well as health services have been going out of the reach of the common man.


 1.Rehman sohbhan, Message from the Indian elections, Main Streem, june 12 , 2004, p.7

2.Aswani Kumar, Indian voters no irrational fools, mainstream, June 12,2004.p.13

3.F.Herzberg, Work and the nature of the man , Cleveland, world publishing,


4.A.H.Maslow, Motivation and personality, New york, Harper and Row, 1954

5.K.Saradamoni, salute the Indian voters: They should not be let down,    Mainstream, may 22, 2004. p.9

Post time: 12-17-2016