After a brief visit to Uttar Pradesh during the recent election campaign, I came back to Delhi convinced that the Bharatiya Janata Party was winning the elections easily. I was surprised by the scepticism around me—it was not just journalists who declared there was a Samajwadi Party wave; even those who had never left Delhi in over two decades were lecturing me on the BJP’s imminent loss.
It is evident that even journalists I respect are finding it increasingly hard to get a sense of what is happening on the ground. The country is now divided in ways it never was, and conversation across these divisions is increasingly difficult. It is easy to be misled when you start from Delhi and call up a contact in Uttar Pradesh, who then puts you in touch with others who predispose you to see what you want to see on the ground.
Terming this the Khan Market cast of mind runs the danger of lending credence to the vilest form of labelling and abuse of people who are already beleaguered, who seem to be among the few in the country who see worth in the Constitution. But, for this very reason, it is necessary to face up to Modi’s evocation of the “Khan Market gang.” Soon after his 2014 victory, I could not help but noting that times of great moral clarity, when right and wrong are evident, blind people to their own failings. To consider an attack by Modi as a badge of honour without looking inwards only helps Modi.