The middle class has been considered a major contributor to the country’s politics. This section is considered to be the biggest factor in deciding the narrative of the country’s politics and giving it direction. The middle class has also proved this on many occasions before. But for the last few years it seems to be losing its political capital. Whether it is the ruling party or the opposition, in recent times the middle class is not visible in the priority of anyone. After all, what is the reason behind this trend? Experts do not want to make any opinion about it in a hurry, but they also believe that the taste of the middle class is not being taken care of in the political menu presented by the political parties here.
why the trend changed
After liberalisation, the involvement of the middle class in politics has increased since the nineties. Especially in making the narrative, the most important role of this section was being considered. But it also came to the fore that in the last few years, this section did not get the expected gift from the government. By the way, the government claims that the middle class people have been its top priority. But middle class people hardly agree with this. It is also true that the recent political results can also be the reason for the neglect of the middle class. From budget to election promises, all the political results in the recent past have shown the same thing that political parties have been focusing more on the poor and farmers. The population of the village has been his priority. There is also no denying the fact that the rural people, the poor and the farmers have been playing a greater role in deciding the political course in elections. After 2014, the Modi government launched several schemes for them and their popularity has increased among this section. The government continuously focused on them. Most of the Centre’s resources went into running schemes like the Kisan Samman Nidhi and free rations. He also got the political benefit of this.
But according to this, the middle class did not get gifts. It is also true that with limited economic resources, the government cannot keep every section happy. That too when the economic condition of the country has not been strong for the last few years. Well there is another aspect to it. The ruling party argues that the central government has taken many such steps in the recent years, which have indirectly benefited the middle class. A senior leader associated with the government said that a lot of work has been done on infrastructure in the last few years. Road and rail service has been improved. The middle class population benefits the most from all these things. His argument was that it is better to provide better resources to the middle class than to give direct benefits. The government is doing this and this class is also getting its benefits.
On the other hand, the opposition also focused on the poor and the people living in the villages and announced to give them free things in the elections. He also got the benefit of this. In such a situation, the message also went that both sides proceeded with the thinking that the political risk of angering the middle class and urban population for some time can be taken. However, opposition parties say that their agenda includes issues like free electricity and employment, which are most concerned with the middle class people. This section got the maximum benefit of free electricity in Delhi and Arvind Kejriwal has managed to capitalize on it politically.
the risks are not low
However, there are also risks of angering the urban population and the middle class. In 2004, the NDA government had to bear the brunt of this. Then in an unexpected way, the NDA had to face defeat in the urban seats. The then Atal government had lost the support of the middle class due to the failure on fronts like closure of old pension and inflation. Then in 2010, when the UPA was getting stronger under the leadership of the Congress, the Anna movement was the first to shake the foundations of the government. The command of this movement was in the hands of the middle class. The middle class population is also increasing with time. The interesting thing is that in these circumstances the ruling party and the opposition are taking the risk of ignoring the middle class. Although the Modi government knows that there will be many opportunities for course correction in the future. In 2019 also, just before the general elections, in the last budget, the limit of income tax was raised to five lakh rupees and got a lot of support from this section. At the same time, PM Modi is an expert in taking shocking decisions when the opportunity comes. It cannot be assumed that PM Modi, a staunch player of politics, is not aware of the restlessness of the middle class. It is also true that even now the personal trust of this population on PM Modi is very strong. In such a situation, there may be opportunities to remove the displeasure of the middle class in the coming times. After the humiliating defeat in the 2019 general elections, the opposition has now understood that the economic pitch is the only option to take on Modi-Shah. The opposition, which was constantly being pushed on the backfoot on issues like Hindutva or nationalism, has now focused its attention on the economy. The middle class is at the forefront of taking forward the economic agenda. Now it has to be seen in which direction this fight to make this class move in its favor.
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are the author’s own.