You would think an election this big would get a ton of media attention, especially on our side of the world — where 24-hour cable news struggles to fill the hours with speculation about Malaysian airliners falling into black holes, and breathless panics about New Jersey traffic jams. But short of a comedy bit on liberal comedian John Oliver’s new HBO show, and a brief mention on The McLaughlin Group (where the biggest news story is that there’s still a McLaughlin Group), our mainstream media, left, right, and center, have ignored the story.
Fortunately, you have genuine, journalistic media sites like RedTea News, to bring you the gist of what’s going on with India’s general election, the largest democratic exercise in history, which began on April 7th. This election is so huge that its taking five weeks to just count all the votes. The voting pool is the size of the entire population of the United States and Western Europe combined, and then some; the eligible voting population of 814 million has definitely exceeded the previous 2009 election’s voting size by at least 100 million.
The actual voting and the counting of votes goes in nine different phases, and until they reach the last phase on May 12th, they will not announce who gained the majority vote. The two main candidates are Rahul Gandhi, vice president of the center-left Indian National Congress, and Narendra Modi, chief minister of the state of Gujurat and prime ministerial candidate for the Hindu-nationalist and politically conservative Bharatiya Janata Party.
What could be of greater interest to Americans than the world’s largest free election?
The good thing about this election is that it has a little bit of everything. We have on one side Rahul Gandhi, who comes from the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty of India, and has followed the steps of his father, Rajiv Gandhi, who became the prime minister of India back in 1984 before he was assassinated in 1989 by a suicide bomber. Gandhi’s critics say that this position shouldn’t just be handed over to him because of his popular and influential family members. Others are surprised Gandhi took up politics at all as his sister, Priyanka, was the one expected to pursue the top job. Regardless of his opponents, Gandhi still stands a good chance at winning the whole shebang due to his position of vice president of his party, and being the general secretary of the Indian youth Congress (IYC) and the National Students Union of India (NSUI). These posts will help his chances because India’s voting population is mostly under the age of 35.
On the other side we have Narendra Modi, who comes equipped with a rags to riches story that everyone knows and loves. As a boy, he sold tea at a railway station with his father, and he worked his way up the political ladder from there. He is even caught up in a scandal — Modi was accused of being involved in the 2002 Gujurat riots between Hindus and Muslims, in which about 100 people were slain, mostly Muslims. Modi’s involvement in the events has yet to be confirmed. Modi promises toilets in every household if he is elected; and in a country ranked the third poorest region in the world, that is definitely a huge luxury.
America is the first modern democracy, and has sought to expand democracy and freedom across the world since our founding. What could be of greater interest to Americans, than the world’s largest free election in a nation that is a close trading partner and key ally in the War on Terror (and which makes even more movies than we do)?
But then, CNN’s Don Lemon has a really interesting theory about Malaysia Airlines Flight 360 and UFOs that he’s like to talk about instead.