Constructing the Bharatverse (Part 2)

The Search

Looking back from the future…

The success of Bharatverse hinged on a single idea: given an opportunity, enough Indians would seek an alternative to the politicians and their parties to create a Swatantra Lok Sabha. There was nothing in past voting patterns which pointed to this possibility because the choice for voters had always been between political formations and not between politicians and non-politicians.

The years from 2020-2022 created the opening. The pandemic disrupted the normal lives of hundreds of millions of Indians. While they got free food from the government, they saw their upwardly mobile future disappearing. Kids did not get an education, jobs in urban areas slowed, incomes dropped. Even as 10% at the top prospered, the other 90% struggled. The response of those in power was not to make the structural changes to increase economic freedom which would have led to wealth creation, but ratchet up the divisions in society along caste and community lines to make people forget their deep distress.

This approach of divide-to-rule had worked well since British times. Indian society has many schisms. Rulers were able to exploit these fault lines – a first-past-the-post electoral system ensured that only the support of a ‘selectorate’ was needed. But this time it was different. Even as mainstream media became government mouthpieces in return for advertising money, people had alternate channels via social media that provided them a clearer view of the reality. Video by video, message by message, the perception slowly started gaining ground in those most affected that their problems were government-created, and the solution did not lie in re-electing the same politicians. The search for an alternative was quietly underway.

In the past, alternatives had come from within the political establishment. In 1977, a Janta coalition took on the Congress. In 2014, the BJP took on the Congress. The question now was: who would take on the BJP – and the other parties, because they were all equally culpable in the policies that put hurdles in people’s paths to prosperity. Economic well-being had never been a determinant for voting decisions, but people’s minds started changing because for the first time, an alternative future was presented to them.

The pandemic had broken the cycle of slow but steady improvement. For the first time in a generation, living standards had declined and future prospects did not look good – unless one was at the very top. Job creation was at a low because lack of reforms kept masses stuck in agriculture, small and medium enterprises had been battered, and ancient and unreformed labour laws drove automation rather than employment. A government-controlled education system did not bode well for the future either.

It was against this backdrop that the alternative presented by Nayi Disha interested people.

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.