Narendra Modi: Is hardline Hindu politics failing India's PM?
Last week's electoral losses in five states for India's ruling party has led to speculation that its agenda of promoting hardline Hindu politics has backfired. The BBC's Priyanka Pathak reports.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lost to the main opposition Congress party in the Hindi-speaking heartland states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, all of which they previously governed. Local parties swept up the other two states - Telangana and Mizoram - putting the BJP in a tough place ahead of general elections next year.
It appears that after winning no less than 13 state elections since coming to power in 2014, the BJP's seemingly invincible electoral juggernaut is losing steam.
There is a great deal of introspection within and outside the party. And the main question is: has the BJP's recent pursuit of a hardline Hindu agenda - known locally as Hindutva - backfired? Will a departure from an inclusive, development agenda to a polarising, communal one cost the BJP general election too?
These are legitimate questions because the party deployed the chief minister of the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, as its star campaigner in the five states that went to polls.
Mr Adityanath is widely considered a controversial figure because of .
He addressed 74 election rallies while Mr Modi, who is usually his party's star campaigner, addressed just 31.
Mr Adityanath also spent the past few months courting the Sangh Parivar - a "family" of Hindu nationalist organisations including the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a hardline Hindu organisation with umbilical ties to the BJP.
The Sangh Parivar also includes the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), which has been at the forefront of a movement demanding the construction of a Hindu temple on the site of a 16th Century mosque that was torn down by Hindu mobs in 1992, provoking widespread riots that left thousands dead.
Hindus believe Ayodhya, situated in Mr Adityanath's Uttar Pradesh state, is the birthplace of their revered deity Lord Ram, and say an older temple existed at the site before the mosque was constructed.