It wasn’t always like this, though. At independence, political power passed largely to a highly educated, urban leadership. This class used its new found power to great effect, knocking out feudalism from India’s power matrix—an achievement which tends to be undervalued till one looks across our western border. A highly centralised power structure kept this arrangement going for 40 years till Mandal and Mandir changed India’s political landscape, drastically curtailing the middle class’ political influence.
However, at the same time, India’s newly liberalised economy helped the middle class not only to become a lot richer but also became a lot larger. And, though it had lost a lot of political power, the urban middle class still enjoyed a disproportionately large share of the pie—Delhi’s power cuts cause a lot more consternation than the lack of power in UP.
In a bid to win over this growing class, lost to the the BJP in the 90s, the Congress air-dropped Tharoor onto the political scene. This coupled with Manmohan Singh’s favourable image and the general disarray the BJP finds itself in helped the Congress significantly in winning over the urban middle class. Unfortunately, Tharoor’s style was too much of a break with the way Indian politics works. However, as this middle class grows, it’s only a matter of time before it gets its own political representation.