Of late, there are conversations aplenty on the role and performance of the Modi government. The most engaging of them is the one centred on spiraling fuel price hike post elections in key states, and how it has pounded the economic backbone of the man on the street. What’s especially agonizing is the reticence of the Modi Sarkar to the evident pain of the common people. It’s a factoid that the middle class is a toothless stakeholder in the political sweepstakes. Yes, you read it right! Toothless, because most of the people of our ilk do not form the vote bank of political parties.
Just look at how petrol prices have gone uphill over the past two weeks. A daily revision of 80 paisa per litre has escalated petrol prices to well over the Rs 100 mark. My compatriots in Smart City Bhubaneswar are shelling out Rs 112 for every litre of petrol they replenish. They don’t know how long this price torment will rage on. Domestic LPG prices, too, have soared, drilling big holes in the pockets of the toiling middle class and upsetting their limited fiscal space.
The exorbitant fuel prices have offered the Opposition enough ammunition to fire salvo at the government. I recall how vocal Prime Minister Narendra Modi was when fuel prices rose during the Congress regime at the Centre. He did not even shy away from saying that the then Prime Minister had nothing to speak on the matter plaguing common lives. Now, it begs a natural question. Why is then the same Modi ji mute on an alarming price escalation? It doesn’t behove a responsible and democratically elected government to constantly pass the buck to the Opposition when your own house is in disarray. It’s unethical to perpetuate politics of dissent on a nationwide crisis. The cascading effect of oil price rise has started showing up. This is a real threat to the country’s economy and a speed breaker in the Modi’s government’s path to a $5 trillion economy.
The Modi government may have won many a perception battle but a disillusioned middle class doesn’t augur well for its people-friendly image. Appallingly, the Modi government has done nothing to contain prices of petroleum products. Rationalizing the cocktail of taxes is one good idea to bring fuel prices to realistic levels. Sadly, the government hasn’t thought of it yet.
Let me share a heartwarming story that takes us to the root of this crisis. It’s a story that will resonate with you. Think of millions of citizens who struggle each day to fend for their families. Every rupee earned counts. And every penny saved has an implication for the future. I’m speaking of the middle class, the underreported victims of a government’s disdain. They don’t own ration cards, nor do they get freebies. They earn by the sweat of their brow and are heavily dependent on their modest earnings.
On my way from Bhubaneswar to Cuttack late evening, I saw a well-dressed man dragging his bike on the middle of the National Highway to refuel his bike’s fuel tank to reach his destinations . Interestingly, he turned out to be one of my friends who was practicing law at the High Court of Odisha in Cuttack and has been doing it selflessly for over a decade. To figure out why he was hauling his bike in the darkness, I queried him. Then, he shared his story of distress with great candour. He spends around Rs 100 per day on an average to commute from Bhubaneswar to Cuttack (to his office chamber) and return back to Bhubaneswar(residence) which he is well accustomed to. Still, when the price goes up, an extra odd 20 to 30 rupees insidiously, it affects in bearing his daily expenses and savings, which he cannot afford, considering the limited incomes.
This is the true price of being born into a middle-class Indian family, where no voice is raised. Because the Indian middle class has no other options, it has always succumbed to the political victim cards of whoever may come into power. They can’t go out on the street or defend themselves. Instead, this cohort goes to work to earn a living. If we don’t do that, it hurts our income.
Just to stay in the political racecourse, the government can’t dupe the innocent Indian middle-class families who hardly intervene in government affairs. Since they depend on their hard-earned incomes, they can’t be hit. They are genuinely fed up with the current dispensation, thinking when politicians are out of power, they speak about their miseries and vice versa. But the fact remains they are the one community have voted for PM Modi to become their Prime Minister to bring smiles on their faces yet their dreams remain unfulfilled. So, how long does the Indian middle class suffer as being played as victim cards for winning elections after the election? God’s sake, they are in disarray over your illogical price rise of fuel because they are confused about witnessing the real double standard of Indian politicians.
Can Indian politicians ever think over and offer any solutions to meet the unheard aspirations and voices of millions of middle-class families who still hugely contribute to our nation’s mega tax systems !!
Story By – Dibyajit Sahu, Group Editor
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