Cong fears it may have alienated middle class

 With the economic crisis hitting the middle-class in the form of hike in home loan interest rates and rising fuel prices, the Congress fears this may alienate urban voters who played a key role in bringing the United Progressive Alliance back to power in 2009.

A section of Congress leaders feel that the middle-class voters may move away from the party as there is an impression that the government is burdening them with taxes, charging them more for petrol and diesel only to hand out doles to the poor through initiatives such as the food security scheme.

“This section of voters feel short-changed by the government,” a senior Congress leader said.

The fact that a large section of the middle-class plays the role of opinion makers has added to the Congress’ woes and the government which is now grappling with a turbulent economy, in addition to the anti-incumbency factor.

These leaders argue that a large section of the poor who are expected to benefit from the food security bill and the land acquisition bill back caste-based parties in the key states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar which together send 120 members to the Lok Sabha.

All for middle class

Congress’ arch-rival and BJP poll mascot Narendra Modi is also targeting the middle-class, which is disenchanted with the government’s policies and the perceived governance deficit.

In the 2009 elections, the Congress had won 61 seats more than its 2004 tally, but its vote share had increased only by 2.1 per cent.

The Congress obtained 28.6 per cent of the vote, almost identical to its vote share in 1999, when the National Democratic Alliance retained power at the Centre.

The response to Modi’s rallies in urban centers like Pune and Hyderabad has had the Congress worried as it can witness a reversal of fortunes even if there is a  minuscule change in voting pattern.

A recent nationwide poll survey had given the Congress 139 seats if the Lok Sabha elections were held now, which is pales over the party’s 2004 tally of 145 seats.
The upcoming Assembly polls in five states of Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Mizoram scheduled for November will be a litmus test for ambitious social sector measures like food security and the land acquisition bill.

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