Hindus fail to regain three Indian states: Lower castes and Muslims unite to elect socialist-untouchable coalition

HINDU militants have failed to regain control of three Indian state assemblies where they had been dismissed from power a year ago following the razing of a mosque by Hindu zealots.

Partial by-election results show that the right-wing Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the leading opposition party, suffered unexpected defeats in Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, India's largest and most populous state. The Hindu nationalists face a close battle in the state of Madhya Pradesh, where vote-counting begins today.

The Congress party of the Prime Minister, Narasimha Rao, also fared poorly in these states and lost the Delhi assembly elections to the BJP. Several Congress rebels indirectly blamed Mr Rao for his party's poor performance. Mr Rao's lacklustre campaign style failed to lure crowds. Colonel Ram Singh, a cabinet minister, said: 'The very future of the party is at stake and all our workers are not only worried but demoralised.'

The BJP was expelled from four state assembly governments for its role in instigating 250,000 Hindu militants to destroy a Muslim shrine in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, in December last year, which the Hindus claimed was built on the birthplace of their god, Lord Ram.

Communal strife erupted across the country after the mosque's destruction and Mr Rao dismissed the BJP state assemblies.

The Hindu nationalists' failure to recapture power was blamed on the BJP's inability to sustain their wave of Hindu sentiment and anti-Muslim rancour. As one BJP member of parliament, Uma Bharati, explained: 'Everyone would touch the feet of a priest, but if he contested an election he would lose his deposit.'

Vijay Bhaskar Reddy, a senior Congress member, said: 'The people of Uttar Pradesh have taken the mature decision of throwing out fundamentalism once and for all.'

In Uttar Pradesh, which because of its 80 million voters is often the political trendsetter for the country, many Hindus voted not along communal lines but according to caste. Uttar Pradesh will probably be governed by a new coalition between the socialists and a party representing the untouchables, who are at the bottom of Hinduism's complex social hierarchy.

Although 40 per cent of all Indians belong to the lower castes, never before have they flexed their political muscle. Uttar Pradesh's large Muslim population also deserted the Congress party after the demolition of the Ayodhya mosque, and joined the socialist-untouchable coalition, led by Mulayam Singh Yadav, a former chief minister.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Alloysious Massaquoi, 'G' Hastings and Kayus Bankole of Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
musicThe surprise winners of the Mercury Prize – and a very brief acceptance speech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
News
video
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

English Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: English Teacher - Saffron ...

Primary Supply Teacher - Northants

£90 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Primary School Supply Teache...

Maths Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Maths Teacher - Saffro...

Chemistry Teacher - Top School in Malaysia - January Start

£18000 - £20400 per annum + Accommodation, Flights, Medical Cover: Randstad Ed...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain