My ‘Middle-Class’ Vote

General elections are round the corner. It’s that time of governance-cycle where suddenly the all-important (politician) becomes the common man and the common man becomes all-important. Well, let’s make hay while the sun shines because this window of opportunity would come again after five years.

Basking in the glory of this transient attention that voters are getting, I thought of coming up with my own wish list of the top five things that I would want the next government to promise and hopefully deliver, which will help me decide whom to vote for. Let me add that even though I am no spokesperson for any group of voters, I can safely say that my wish list would echo with many, especially the middle-class voters.

It is funny, but I am feeling like a kid again when I used to make a wish list for Santa Claus on Christmas. This Santa comes every five years, so my expectations are even higher. Hope at least one Santa is listening, be it the Congress-Santa or the BJP-Santa. Whichever of the two would give me some hope and promise for fulfilling my wishes, my vote will go to it. So, let’s begin…

The biggest concern in the mind of any woman in our country is ‘safety’. Yes, even after so many decades of independence, we are still fighting for basic rights. I want to be safe in my country. I want to be able to go out alone even at night with the assurance that I will return home safely. I am independent in more ways than one, then why do I need to be escorted by a male when travelling in the night? Can any political party assure me this? If yes, I will vote for you and in fact even campaign for you.

Another aspect of safety is terrorism. It is a bigger and global problem that India has a fair share of. I wish my next government is strong enough to protect its people from terrorist attacks. Is that asking for too much?

While physical safety is a concern for all, I would like the government to look at the safety of my health too. Well, I am talking about the alarming levels of pollution these days, especially around Diwali. There are some easy steps that the government can take to make sure we breathe cleaner air during the next Diwali. I have already talked about these steps in another article. Hope someone pays heed to it.

Another thing that is a fundamental right of every citizen is access to education. I want the next government to ensure that every poor child is given free good quality education. The keyword here is ‘good quality’. There are many schemes for free education of the poor, but we all know that they are effectively as good as non-existent. This is one thing that does not impact a middle-class voter like me directly, but as a citizen of this country, I would want the quality of human lives to improve as a whole, and this is possible only when every child is ‘educated’ in the real sense of the word.

Related to education is reservation. Majority of the seats are reserved in many good educational institutions on the basis of caste. People like me who belong to the middle-class and fall in the general category, bear the brunt the most. Economic reservation makes sense, but only for education at the school level and definitely not for jobs. Can any party promise me that it will be fair to all deserving students who worked hard to secure good marks? Surely, this will be risky in terms of politics, but all one is asking for is replacing ‘caste’ with ‘economic status’. Doable?

I understand that the number of middle-class voters is small as compared to the rural or lower-class voters that the parties mainly seem to target. However, the middle-class does have a sizeable vote-share in its hands. It can always give a party the political edge. The five things listed by me are as basic as food and water. However, I am still having to ask for it. It is sad, but let bygones be bygones. Promise me these basic ‘rights’ and ‘needs’, and the middle-class vote can easily swing in your favour. After all, it is not only what the government does, but also what it does not do, for which it is accountable.

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About the Author: Shobhika Puri

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