Hindu nationalists protest demanding temple construction at contested site of Ayodhya

Hindu nationalists protest demanding temple construction at contested site of Ayodhya

Right-wing Hindu nationalists are expected to hold rallies in major Indian cities today to demand the construction of a temple

Sadhus or Hindu holymen shout slogans during “Dharma Sabha” or a religious congregation organised by VHP in Ayodhya

Photo: Reuters/Pawan Kumar

Right-wing Hindu nationalists are expected to hold rallies in major Indian cities today to demand the construction of a temple on the Hindu-Muslim holy site in Ayodhya.

Today marks 26 years since a mosque on the site was demolished in a rally by supporters of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), an event that sparked widespread violence between Muslim and Hindu communities across India.

Tensions between Muslims and Hindus have since been stoked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bolster support among the right-wing of his party. With the BJP now holding a majority on both national and state levels, its voters are mounting pressure is to build a Hindu temple atop the ruins of the Babri mosque.

If Modi ignores his constituents’ demands, he risks losing touch with an important part of his political base just five months before a general election. However, building the Hindu temple would likely inflame the country’s already deep Hindu-Muslim divide—potentially leading to renewed violent clashes and pushing moderates towards the opposition next may. As such, it’s unlikely that Modi will support today’s Hindu nationalist demands in the short-term.

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