New Delhi, April 15: Barring the 2009 parliamentary elections that took place in the aftermath of the economic meltdown, the Indian middle class has for long been the mainstay of the Bharatiya Janata Party's support base. The 2009 elections were an exception when the middle class broadly supported the Congress-led UPA and, much to its dismay, got shoddy treatment by the then Manmohan Singh government.

At that time, Narendra Modi, then the Chief Minister of Gujarat, came out in strong defence of the middle class and encouraged their aspirations through various schemes, which were also for the lower economic rung that was working hard to move a notch up in the social ladder. He termed the latter as the 'neo-middle class'. Lok Sabha Election 2024: General Polls All About Making Narendra Modi Prime Minister for Third Time, Says Union Minister Mansukh Mandaviya (See Pics).

In the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the middle class solidly supported Narendra Modi and the BJP-led coalition. It is perhaps only natural that the BJP's 'Modi Ki Guarantee 2024' manifesto places a special emphasis on the middle class and what the Modi government, if it returns to power for a third straight term, is going to do to meet the expectations and aspirations of this burgeoning class.

PM Modi recognises the role this class, which is ever so desirous to move ahead, can potentially play in his resolve to make India an economic powerhouse. It was also no coincidence that the Prime Minister released BJP's manifesto on Dalit icon Bhim Rao Ambedkar's birth anniversary (April 14). Lok Sabha Election 2024: PM Narendra Modi To Campaign in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu Today for General Polls.

"The last 10 years have seen a large number of families join the ranks of the neo-middle class due to a steady increase in the incomes of all citizens. It is our responsibility to help them grow further while giving them enough support to stabilise their standard of living," states a special section in the BJP manifesto that is dedicated to 'Empowering the Neo-Middle Class'.

It promises to provide them with "opportunities to fulfill their dreams and create conditions for a better quality of life". Urbanisation, rational tax structure, providing opportunities in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities, rapid growth infrastructure, digitization, clear-cut policies, less paperwork, and encouraging government schemes are some of the things that the Modi government has stressed in the last 10 years to give a boost to young entrepreneurs.

The manifesto details how a large number of families have joined the ranks of the neo-middle class due to a steady increase in the citizens' income. "The middle class is at the forefront of driving growth and innovation. Their hard work defines the spirit of a 'New India'. Our government has consistently worked towards greater 'Ease Of Living' for the benefit of the middle class," PM Modi said in the past.

The BJP also said that it remains committed to establishing new satellite towns across the country, envisioning them as the focal points for national development.

"We will strengthen the RERA (Real Estate Regulation and Development Act), which made the real estate sector in Bharat more transparent and citizen-friendly than ever before. We will work with the state governments to facilitate home ownership for the middle class through comprehensive measures, including cost reduction in construction and registration, and regulatory reforms like enabling automatic approvals for standard housing designs, among others," the manifesto says.

By expanding Bharat's top-tier startup ecosystem to Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities, the BJP promises to create more high-value jobs and turn the country into a global centre for high-quality services.

Similarly, it speaks about ensuring quality healthcare facilities for the middle class by expanding the AIIMS and the Ayushman Arogya Mandir network, besides establishing as many as 315 new medical colleges across the country.

Having emphasised that education is a significant factor that can change the destiny of the nation, the BJP promises to elevate the quality of education by expanding top educational institutions and upgrading universities to global standards. This includes introducing more IITs, IIMs, AIIMS, etc.

Developing modern road networks, enhancing rail and metro connectivity with new-age trains and expanded networks, establishing comprehensive EV charging stations, constructing new airports, and advancing telecom infrastructure with affordable 5G and innovative 6G technologies are also on the list of promises made by the party to the middle class families.

All these initiatives which are aimed at the betterment of the middle class were not on the priority list of the Congress-led UPA governments before 2014, the BJP insists.

Since then, the BJP maintains, the middle class has benefited tremendously from the various reforms in tax, healthcare, education, infrastructure, employment, and several other sectors. On Sunday, PM Modi reiterated "Yahi Samay Hai, Sahi Samay Hai" (this is the right time) to shape India's destiny for the next millennium.

With the government already working on the initial 100-day action plan, the BJP's 'Sankalp Patra' will be set in motion after June 4, the Prime Minister said. The Counting of votes for the Lok Sabha elections will be taken up on June 4.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Apr 15, 2024 05:47 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website