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India Votes
May 23, 2019

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) declared victory on Thursday as early results from India's six-week-long election showed it headed toward a landslide win over the main opposition Congress party and powerful regional parties. Full results aren't expected until Thursday night or later, but partial results have BJP ahead in more than 300 of 542 seats in the lower house of Parliament, and if Modi's party ended up with at least 272 seats, he can govern in his second term without a coalition; BJP won 282 seats in 2014. Congress is ahead in fewer than 100 seats. More than 600 million people voted in the elections.

The election was widely viewed as a referendum on Modi, a polarizing but charismatic figure who is adept at using social media but is blamed for increasing ethnic and religious divisions in India. The country's economy has been underperforming in the past few years, but Modi focused on national security during the campaign, a major topic amid skirmishes with Pakistan in Kashmir.

"Backed by enormous resources, the BJP's organizational machinery, employing all modern methods of communication, is now difficult to beat," writes BBC News correspondent Soutik Biswas. If Congress wants to recover, it will have to work harder and "build an alternative narrative to take on the BJP's campaign, which deftly combined nationalism, development, and religious polarization." Peter Weber

May 20, 2014

Last week, The Daily Show sent a purportedly reluctant Jason Jones to India to cover the end of its massive six-week-long national elections. The running joke is that Jones (a Canadian) thinks America has this democracy thing down, and what's India's poor imitation of the original going to do about it? In part two of "India Jones and the Election of Doom," it's becoming clear that Jon Stewart and Co. are doing more than mining Indian stereotypes and American ignorance for cheap laughs. That's not to say there aren't jokes: The segment starts with Jones trying to figure out how "this adorable democracy handles modern politics," but ends with a dysentery gag.

Usually when people gripe about The Daily Show doing straight news better than actual news networks, they're talking about Stewart's surprisingly tough interviews or media criticism. In this case, Comedy Central is apparently spending more resources to cover the world's largest elections than most newspapers and lots of TV news programs. --Peter Weber

May 16, 2014

India's opposition Bharatiya Janata Party and its leader, Narendra Modi, have won what appears to be a landslide victory in the country's six-week-long national elections. According to preliminary results early Friday, the Hindu nationalist BJP has won at least 272 seats in the lower house of Parliament; that would be an outright majority and enough to form a government outright, a feat no party has pulled off since 1984.

The long-dominant Congress Party conceded defeat. "We are accepting the people's verdict in all humility," party spokesman Shakil Ahmed told The Associated Press. Turnout was a record 66.4 percent of India's 814 million voters. Modi, who was governor of Gujarat state during bloody 2002 riots that killed more than 1,000 Muslims, campaigned on fostering economic growth and better governance. Peter Weber

May 16, 2014

India just completed its six-week-long national election, the largest exercise in democracy anywhere in the world. (Spoiler: Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party won.) Like most Americans, the folks at The Daily Show have only passing familiarity with India and its electoral process. Instead of shying away from that fact, Jon Stewart almost embraced it on Thursday night's show (Jason Jones fully embraced his purported ignorance, to great effect), as a way to explain the candidates, issues, and nuts and bolts of India's election.

Stewart gave a brief primer on India's next prime minister, but keep watching for Jones' reluctant trip to India. You'll probably learn something, and you'll definitely laugh. --Peter Weber

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