Parody websites poke fun at India’s first ‘social media election’

Voting during the Indian elections lasts an exhaustive six weeks, but election fever was already in the air — and online — long before polls opened on April 7. In what’s widely being hailed as India’s first social media election, regular news reports and commentaries were joined by a number of websites and online parodies that popped up to poke fun at the elections.

The545, a news project launched ahead of the elections by a group of Indian students at Columbia Journalism School, compiled a number of such websites. Here’s Rishi Iyengar of The545’s take on one devoted to parodying Rahul Gandhi of the Indian National Congress Party:

Ask Rahul Anything “The only good thing to come out of Rahul Gandhi’s infamous interview with Times Now, was this faux-serious website, asking users to Ask Rahul Anything. True to form, the Congress Vice President promptly responds with a combination of words from his usual verbal arsenal of Women, Empowerment, Growth and RTI (a neat number-crunching of which can be found here.)”

Ask Rahul Anything

A website devoted to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Narendra Modi, on the other hand, is amusing precisely because the candidate doesn’t offer any response. As Iyengar writes:

Narendra Modi Plans“Narendra Modi meanwhile, has been championing himself as the economic savior our nation deserves, one whose saintly childhood was a precursor to him bailing India out from all its crumbling economic problems. No one seems very sure of how precisely he [intends] to make this happen, but perhaps this website might have stumbled upon it.

“All you have to do is click on the big red button that says ‘GET THE DETAILS,’ but that, as we discovered, is easier said than done.”

Narendra Modi Plans

A website deriding claims of Modi’s governance over the state of Gujarat also made the list of amusing website (Rs is the abbreviated version of the Indian currency, the rupee):

The Complete Guide on How to Spend Rs 11 in Gujarat “Not a day passes without a mention or meltdown over Modi and his ubiquitous Gujarat Model of development, with the state being touted as the magical land where the princely sum of Rs 11 is all that one needs to survive. This standard of economic sustainability is put to the test, and predictably, the results mirror the hilarious absurdity of the claim. We tried it out and based on our choices, Rs 11 would buy us the dhania off the top of Pav Bhaji, and perhaps a pack of Gopal Snack Pellets… Ultimate survival kit indeed.”

As Indians now wait for the results of the elections on May 16, BuzzFeed has compiled a list of how the elections have changed the lives of Indians. Among the topics covered: the unstoppable Instagram selfies of voters with their inked fingers; how people started gossiping about politicians instead of Bollywood stars; and now, after the fatigue of six weeks of living and breathing politics, cries of “NoMo” (echoing Modi’s nickname in Indian media is “NaMo”).

But Twitter, being Twitter, hasn’t stopped commenting on the election. With recent exit polls predicting a crushing defeat for the Congress Party and news breaking that Rahul Gandhi has skipped out on attending the farewell dinner of the departing prime minister Manmohan Singh, everyone from journalists to comedians are giving their two cents on Mr. Gandhi:

(Modi is known for having given speeches in hologram form, as British comedian and former Daily Show regular John Oliver reminded audiences recently.)

This piece was originally published on May 14, 2014, on Link TV’s World News website.

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