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BJP concedes defeat in Ayodhya where it demolished a historic mosque and built temple

India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) conceded defeat in Ayodhya on Tuesday despite the recent inauguration of a Hindu temple by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, an event anticipated to secure his legacy and the party’s electoral success.

The BJP is facing significant losses in Uttar Pradesh, a key northern state, with the opposition Samajwadi Party and Congress leading in over half of the state’s 80 seats. This includes Ayodhya, located in the Faizabad constituency, where Modi inaugurated the temple in January, in place of a historic mosque that was demolished.

The temple, dedicated to the god-king Lord Ram and built on a site historically contested by India’s Muslim minority, fulfilled a three-decade-old BJP promise. This promise was highlighted in nearly every campaign rally during the extensive two-month election in the predominantly Hindu country.

“I could not protect your and Ayodhya’s dignity; there must have been some shortcoming in me,” said Lallu Singh, the BJP’s incumbent lawmaker from Faizabad, in a statement shared by the Indian Express daily. “There must have been some reason that we couldn’t win in the Ayodhya parliamentary region.”

Singh had been elected twice to parliament from the Faizabad constituency, in 2014 and 2019, during which Modi’s party secured 71 and 62 seats respectively in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state.

Recent trends from the Election Commission indicated the BJP’s tally has dropped to 33 seats in the state. Analysts have pointed to unemployment and high inflation as key voter concerns that overshadowed religious issues.

“People were fed up with the BJP,” said Rakesh Yadav, chairperson of the Ayodhya Vyapar Mandal, a traders’ association. He noted dissatisfaction among small business owners over inadequate compensation for demolished shops during Ayodhya’s redevelopment ahead of the temple inauguration.

“People will not always fall for caste or temple-mosque politics. They also want to see development, which is why the results may surprise us all,” he added.

The Ram temple’s construction was mandated by the Supreme Court following a protracted and violent dispute. In 1992, a Hindu mob demolished a 16th-century mosque on the site, claiming it was built over Lord Ram’s birthplace.

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I am an experienced writer, analyst, and author. My exposure in English journalism spans more than 28 years. In the past, I have been working with daily The Muslim (Lahore Bureau), daily Business Recorder (Lahore/Islamabad Bureaus), Daily Times, Islamabad, daily The Nation (Lahore and Karachi). With daily The Nation, I have served as Resident Editor, Karachi. Since 2009, I have been working as a Freelance Writer/Editor for American organizations.

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