Why should middle class vote for BJP despite no tax relief?

Why should middle class vote for BJP despite no tax relief?

Can a 'powerful' political party be a punching bag?

Let's take the case of BJP aka Bhajapa. Cocktail circuit of Lutyens hate BJP because BJP isn't uber cool enough, the leaders prefer Sanskrut, Hindi and other indigenous language over polished English. The desi rationalists hate BJP because BJP tries to appease Lutyens Mafia rather than trying to be an unapologetic Desi. Middle Class Junta hate BJP for taxing them and distributing the tax wealth as various doles, schemes and framer loan waivers. Farmers hate BJP because they do not get 'enough' loan waivers or subsidies on farming input costs. The far right Hindutva fanatics hate BJP for not abolishing polygamy, triple talak, scrapping Article 370, imposing UCC or building a 'Bhavya' Ram Mandir. The Islamist fundamentalists hate BJP for imposing strict law in their states, thereby keeping frequent law & order issues like Rape Jehad, terror, Land encroachment etc on leash. The anti-corruption activists hate BJP for hatching eggs and taking no action on super corrupt. The super corrupt Babus hate BJP for curbing ways to earn bribe money, plugging leakages and reducing their 'side income' and worse, making them work on holidays. The regressive lunatic left hate BJP for not doing enough on issues of 'international importance' like Dadri, Gauri Lankesh, beef etc. The pragmatic centrists hate BJP for not doing enough on 'petty issues' like job growth, infrastructure, addressing rural to urban migration etc.

Never before has a political party been hated so much by so many groups of people, not atleast in India. Does that mean BJP is as evil or more evil than its predecessors or it current counterparts? There are over a 1000 genuine reasons to blame and criticize BJP but that is something, a LOT of people are already doing, including me. This answer focuses more on the good part of the BJP, amidst the rising negativity against party which has been in power for almost 4 years now, especially from the perspective of the silent angry middle class, who have been feeling left out and disregarded by this government. I would divide the contribution of BJP governments in 3 parts as they headed 4 different governments under 3 different PMs. Yes, you read it right. I said 3 and not 2. AB Vajpayee and Narendra Modi are the 2 obvious NDA PMs. Vajpayee headed NDA I (1998-1999) and NDA II (1999-2004), whereas Modi has been heading NDA III (2014-2018/19). This 4th term, I am talking about is that of PV Narsimha Rao. He was a Congressman by affiliation but his own party never considered him as their own and discarded him as a 'Sanghi'. PVNR too on his part, considered ABV as his best friend and went on to the extent of sending him to a UN convention despite being from the opposition. No wonder he faced the wrath of Nehru family and was kicked out of PM post, arguably one of the best and the most underrated PMs of India along with ABV. Nevertheless, for this particular article, I won't dedicate much in terms of achievements and dilute the contribution of ORIGINAL BJP PMs to the middle class.

 

0. NDA (-1) under PV Narsimha Rao

The liberation of Middle class - India had turned into a beggar state, at the verge of bankruptcy by the 1990s following 4 and half decades of misrule by Nehru dynasty which followed a plunder of Indian mainland by the Britishers. It was at this moment, when the world forced the Indian leadership, which until then remained regressive and closed, to open up to the global community. “Open up your economy or perish”, they said and the decision maker of that time (PVN) decided to open up. It is at that point when the 250 bn US$ began its true journey into one of the biggest Economies of Asia and perhaps the world in the decades to come by, with the real Hindu rate of growth. This is when the foreign nationals realized the skillful might of the great Indian middle class. Currently above 2.5 tr US$, India has a bigger GDP than 95% of this world's nations, far from enough, but far better than what it was 25 years ago. The doors opened up and so did the tax reliefs. P Chitambram was able to present a 'dream budget' in 1997 when India had accumulated sufficient wealth to distribute and gave the 1st major tax relief to the middle class by lowering tax slabs. Without opening up of economy, this relief would never have been possible.

 

1. NDA I and II under Atal Bihari Vajpayee


The IT Revolution by ABV and the middle class Rush to foreign shores - Even today, an IT job in offshore location is considered lucrative. Talk of a 24-year-old software engineer earning 5000 euros each month in Frankfurt or a 27-year-old techie earning per diems in 1000s of US dollars each month in California, it is the IT revolution which deepened the pockets of the Indian middle class. Back during 1996-1997 a monthly salary of Rs 5000 INR was considered decent. The IT revolution of late 1990s which gave rise to Infosys, Wipro, TCS, Satyam and hordes of other software companies, not only made their founders billionaires but also led to affluence of millions of their employees over the years. By the dawn of 21st century, an average engineer could dream of a salary more than Rs 20,000, 4 times higher than the average not 2 years ago and if he was lucky he would also get paid in foreign currency for offshore location. Very few people acknowledge that this revolution happened under BJP PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Fewer still, would know that it was ABV's policy of SEZs, tax holidays which led to the rise of these IT Giants and resulted in India having a ready-made pool of what the Silicon Valley calls 'Skilled tech labour force'. The ABV government was rewarded in 2004 general elections by the great Indian middle class, who sat at homes and din't come out to vote him back. The 2004 elections saw a voting drop of 18% in urban areas compared to the previous elections and set into motion, one of the most corrupt, ruthless, fascist and incompetent regimes that this country was ruled by, pushing it into a 'decade of decay'.

 

The Ambassador of Mercedes - An ambassador car which is considered a laughing stock today was a symbol of social status not more than 20 years ago. We didn't have enough cars on the road. If I may jest, the number of different models of cars running on Indian roads today exceed the overall number of cars in those days. We had the ambassador, the plain fiat, Maruti 800 and the highest one for middle class would be Maruti esteem (an inferior version of Alto). The succession of economic liberalization continued under ABV and many an MNC opened its shop in India. Talking of roads. The highways built per day by NDA I and II govt. in 6 years were higher than the Congress governments in 40 years or the 10 years of UPA government thereafter. To give a perspective, under ABV 16000 kms of highway were built in 6 years while Manmohan Singh could manage just over 13,000 kms of highway in over 10 years. When you are fed up of flight/train delays and take a road trip from Bangalore to Chennai, do not forget the role played by NDA governments in making road transport a viable option. Unfortunately, as they say, all roads lead to Rome, in BJP's case, all roads led to defeat.

 

Price of Phone Call vs. the Price of Vote - The local calling rates those days used to be Rs 2 per minute, while the STD calls would cost upto Rs 40 per minute, if you were to call a city more than 1000 kms. Having a fixed phone was a matter of prestige. By the time, Vajpayee government lost, it had ensured that every 2nd person in the country possesses a mobile phone, which at that point of time was quite cheap compared to 5 years ago, cheaper still if you consider the cost of inflation. The telecom boom, triggered by privatization and allocation of spectrum to private players like Airtel, Hutch etc played its role. The private players brought in their professionalism and more importantly the superior workforce, which again comprised of the skilled Indian Middle class and led this communication revolution which would have been impossible with the existing sarkari employees of sarkari operator. It wasn't only the phone calls which became cheaper by upto 40 times, dozens of other items witnessed lower price due to competition, privatization and technical upgradation. needless to say the lakhs of jobs created by these booming sectors and for this reduction of prices, what price did the Indian voter place on her/his votes? Apparently not enough.

Fate had ABV taking over at a growth rate of 4.8% and leaving a legacy of 8.4% growth for Manmohan Singh while the later took at 8.4% when the Economy was prime and country's wealth enough to accumulate in individual pockets. Repeated scams and ultra-socialist economic policies emptied the coffers of tax payer’s money, again leaving the Economy at 4.8% for his successor.

2. NDA III under Narendra Modi

Contentious Issues: Tax and Petrol - The biggest anger against this government is that it did not reduce 'enough taxes' and that petrol or diesel is not as cheap as it should have been. For them a mini 'Did you know series' is on cards.

1. Did you know that under UPA II, petrol, diesel prices skyrocketed to an all-time high, infact thrice of what ABV left and Modi government is yet to reach that despite inflationary pressure.

2. Did you know that under Modi government indirect taxes (going by the name of GST) have been at the lowest levels for almost every other good and service; making eating food at restaurants at just 5% (UPA levied 12% Service tax on the same)

3. Did you know watching movies at the highest GST slab of 28% (Previous government had entertainment and other indirect taxes worth 35%) would still be lower than what it was under UPA regime.

4. Did you know the much touted and famed sanitary pads, of which the radical feminists made huge uproar is effectively below 5% (inclusive of GST credit), while no one batted an eyelid when the previous government imposed a tax of around 14% on the same

5 Last but not the least, did you know the biggest Income tax relief, awarded to the Middle class since 1997, came from this government. Between the budgets of 2014 and 2017, where Arun Jaitley raised slab from 2 lakhs to 2.5 lakhs and 1st slab rate was reduced from 10% to 5% and Section 80 CC limit increased to Rs 1.5 lakhs, did you know that, the minimum income tax savings amount to Rs 20,000 every single year. Not a small amount by any stretch, plus this benefit would is passed every single year. Rs 20,000 for a 5-year tenure with nominal interests is over Rs 1 Lakh. Not a petty amount by any standards for the middle class.

 

Scale vs Scam - On one hand NDA III under Modi built an optical fibre network of 7 LAKH kms, covering rural villages into the network fold. In comparison UPA could manage just 350 km or a mere 0.05%of what NDA III did. Even in terms of highways construction, NDA III not only crossed UPA I and II combined, but also aced the NDA I and II government under AB Vajpayee and not just the highway, the rural roads have paced well too. NDA III built highways twice at the speed of UPA I and II or 1.5 times faster than NDA I and II. It is not just the highways and optical fibres. Whether it is reducing NREGA leakages from 74% to 56% or distributing over 2 crore LPG cylinders to poor families, Modi government has achieved a scale of difference, something UPA couldn't do even in more than twice the time period. On the other hand, the Tier 1 corruption (big ticket corruption by powerful ministers) has been kept in check by the Modi government, in comparison to numerous scams of lakhs of crores by the UPA. Although the tier 2 and tier 3 corruption (corruption of sarkari babus and clerks) which make common man's life miserable is yet to be addressed by this government.

 

There have been numerous other achievements of Modi government, items which became cheaper, food inflation under control, better and proactive foreign policy, surgical strikes on Pakistan or the reduced terror attacks by deadly terrorist organization in Indian metropolitan cities, Make In India and other initiatives but those are not in the scope of this article. For this I have restrained to the benefits Indian Middle class got from the BJP government under Modi and other BJP PMs. Does it augur well for the Indian middle class to sit the next election out (as many of them did in 2004) and push the country into another decade of darkness, instability and blackmailing coalition governments? Not only is the educated and informed Indian voter supposed to ensure a strong and stable government by voting himself but also ensure that other citizens become educated and informed too. Do foresee a coalition government with Rahul Gandhi as PM, Kejriwal as FM, Mamta Bannerjee as Defence Minister, Mayawati as HRD and Owaisi brothers as Minority Affairs Minister and imagibe where the country's GDP would be headed. What would become of Social harmony. Will our streets be as safe and will India still enjoy its global stature? The other option under Modi led BJP is far less bad, if not good.

Game Theory and BJP's blind worship

Does this mean one should openly embrace whatever mistake BJP commits? The answer is a firm NO. Our votes are precious and BJP should earn it by working much harder than its adversaries and we cannot and we should not support any and every move of this government. Let this government know that you are unhappy on 1 or more of its moves. Reach out, create campaigns and movements to express dissent. However, when it comes to voting do remember, if you vote for the worse of 2 options you are doing a grave mistake by punishing the more efficient, less corrupt and less communal of the 2 governments. If you stay out of voting, you still indirectly support the eviller government. If you vote NOTA, voila, the bad government is aided again. So when it comes to vote there is but one choice. Even if there is a smarter and more efficient political option, for the time being it will only act as a vote cutter. So wait for the day till it becomes a viable option and do not waste your vote to express outrage or anger. Be a rationalist! Do not forget that loyal voters of other political options of the country even condone their rapists and murders; hence, condoning loudmouth politicians to ensure the hostile parties are kept out of power, isn't such a bad thing to do, both for you as an individual and for the country

 
- Suyash