Indian election results cast shadow on Hindu nationalist aspirations

The 2024 election results in India have “dealt a significant blow to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), shattering its confidence in its ability to mobilise voters using its Hindutva ideology, which promotes Hindu nationalism and marginalizes religious minorities,” reports Newsreel Asia (June 5). This was particularly reflected in the party’s low election results in the BJP-dominated state of Uttar Pradesh, including Ayodhya, a city central to the party’s Hindutva agenda. In the months before the election, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the grand Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, a Hindu temple that is symbolic of the BJP’s commitment to Hindutva. “The event was marked by a widespread display of saffron flags across the nation, an apparent portrayal of a significant victory of Hindus over the Muslim minority. The saffron flags became a common sight on roads, in residential areas and on vehicles, but in hindsight, these flags did not represent the hearts of the majority of the people in those areas,” the newsletter reports.


The Samajwadi Party’s (SP) Awadhesh Prasad beat out the BJP’s Lallu Singh by a substantial margin. “This loss in a constituency synonymous with the Ram Mandir shows a shift in voter sentiment. The defeat suggests that the electorate, even in Ayodhya, is looking beyond religious symbolism and is possibly disenchanted with the BJP’s focus on Hindutva.” The newsletter concludes that in “2014, when the BJP was elected, people perhaps believed the party’s slogan, ‘Achhe din aane waale hain,’ or ‘Good days are coming,’ a sincere promise. A decade later, the BJP’s focus on grand religious gestures has clearly not translated into votes. It appears that local issues and governance have taken precedence for many voters, who may be demanding more than just ideological commitments.”