India’s middle class, neo-middle class to be largest vote component in 2024 polls: Jaitley

New Delhi: Noting that India’s socio-economic character has significantly altered in the past few years, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Thursday that the country’s middle class and neo-middle class will be the largest
vote component in the 2024 general elections.

“We are at an important cusp of history. If I look back in the last five years, India has changed and like any other country, it is evolving from developing status to improve its economic quality and quality of the lives of the people,” he said at the annual conference of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) here.

“It is important to keep our integrity. Our socio-economic character is significantly altering. By 2024 elections, India’s middle-class and neo-middle class will be the largest vote component,” said Jaitley adding the quality of public discourse and policies will need to be different.

“For almost five years, India has been the fastest growing economy despite several obstacles like a bad monsoon and a global slowdown. I think it is possible because of the kind of growth which is required and kind of economic activities seen down the road. It is still possible at least for the next decade if not more to maintain that momentum,” he said.

“If we did that, we would probably be depleting poverty to negligible reverse, becoming a reasonable middle-income nation and our GDP will multiply several times.”

Calling for the need to have more market-based reforms, Jaitley said that such steps would expand the economy.

“This will allow the economy to grow further, put our systems in order so that discretion goes away. Enrichment can be used for infrastructure, poverty alleviation and support the poor and vulnerable. It is an economy that can afford this and is able to provide relief to the poor.”

Talking about the steps taken by the central government in the last five years, the Union Minister remarked, “We did not increase taxes from the both indirect or direct side. Post-GST, compliances have improved. We have also improved from the income tax side.”

“We need to start strengthening the neo-middle class people up to a particular limit of products they use and the income they earn. They must be allowed to spend as much. With lower taxes, we were able to double the base almost in some cases and exponentially increase tax collection. This has funded roads, sanitation, housing and electricity in the rural areas and even the Ayushman Bharat scheme. Increased tax collection will start funding support to the farmers,” he said.

Jaitley further said that growth model should be based on the growth of the market place and economic growth should be used to elevate infrastructure and eradicate poverty.