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    22 Reasons India's Election Is The World's Greatest Soap Opera

    India's 814 MILLION voters go to the polls this week in the granddaddy of elections, the largest democratic process ever. This sets the stage for epic drama with a cast of characters that will put any TV soap to shame.

    1. The Godmother


    SONIA GANDHI - Italian-origin widow of former (assassinated) Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, has been heading the Congress Party for years without ever becoming PM, and has an astonishing level of control over how India has been run. One does not simply mess with her.

    2. The Retiree


    MANMOHAN SINGH - The outgoing Prime Minister has been in power for ten years and has accomplished shockingly little during the time. India's greatest challenge, however, has been to get him Just say anything! Anything at all!

    3. The Prince


    RAHUL GANDHI - His father, grandmother and great-grandfather were all Prime Ministers, and The Godmother is his momma, so his ascendency to the top office is pretty much divine right. That would all be peachy if only he could cut down the staggering number of foot-in-mouth moments every time he speaks in public.

    4. The Challenger


    NARENDRA MODI - He who dares take on The Godmother and her sunny boy, is none other than your lovable hardline Hindu nationalist who may or may not have allowed for the killings of hundreds of Muslims, shuns criticism, and whose PR team has almost completely whitewashed his public image across mainstream media. Ya know, your regular Joe next door.

    5. The Newbie


    ARVIND KEJRIWAL - Ordinary dude gets so pissed off by the rampant corruption and lying in government that he leads several protests, sets up a party for the "common man", contests in local elections in Delhi, shockingly wins, becomes Delhi's Chief Minister, protests more outside government offices (even though he is the government by this point), slaps lawsuits and fines on several huge corporations, makes a lot of enemies very quickly, resigns his Chief Minister post after just six weeks, and then starts campaigning for national elections hoping to become Prime Minister instead. He may lack experience, focus and tact but gotta hand it to him, the man's got balls.

    6. The Tweet


    Musician/singer's blunt tweet comparing Gandhi and Modi was controversial to start with. It didn't help, then, that Kejriwal decided to retweet it, making it the ultimate backhanded slap at both his main opponents. Oops!

    7. Sassy Newspapers

    Via Twitter: @HassaanKahn

    You'd think The Mumbai Mirror is genuinely changing their stance on Modi, but then you feel the BURN.

    8. The Sexy/Awkward/Embarrassing Birthday Song

    View this video on YouTube


    MALLIKA SHERAWAT could qualify as an actor but mostly stays in the news for doing nothing. That and channeling Marilyn Monroe by singing Happy Birthday for Modi. If that's not awkward enough, this reputed news channel decides to repeat it three times in a row as a "news report".

    9. King of Bling


    BAPPI LAHIRI - India's most flamboyant disco king is hoping his shiny gold chains and funky beats get him elected into parliament. That, and he's been rockin' a mullet for 50 years.

    10. Queen of Plastic / Via

    RAKHI SAWANT - A dancer, talk show host, reality TV bride and plastic-surgery aficionado, she has now decided to become a politician...dressed as a green chili.

    11. Amma


    JAYALALITHA - The current Chief Minister of the southern state of Tamil Nadu, "Amma" aspires to all sorts of dizzying power. She's such awesomesauce that Obama, Putin and Kim Jong-Un applaud her greatness too. Copyright infringement be damned!

    12. How Old Is This Guy And How Is He Still Functioning?


    KARUNANIDHI - Filthy rich and powerful arch rival of the filthy rich and powerful Amma (#11). When they're not busy spewing venom at one another, they're dodging criminal cases and trying to become PM. But mostly it's the venom-spewing.

    13. Stalin


    M K STALIN - Old dude in #12 has a son the same year one of the world's most brutal dictators died, so naturally he decided to name his son after him. Brown Stalin is not the only Indian politician who would have a hard time getting a date on OkCupid. There's Adolf Lu Hitler Marak, D Napoleon and Frankenstein Momin too.

    14. A Few Dozen Statues Should Do It


    MAYAWATI - What better way to champion the rights of the downtrodden "untouchable" Dalit caste than by building several of statues of yourself all over your home state, using public funding.

    15. Didi


    MAMATA BANERJEE - Okay, so "Didi" managed to kick the Communist Party out of power in West Bengal after 30some years. But ask her a question - any question - and you'll either be labeled a Communist or a Maoist, depending on her mood that day.

    16. The News Anchor

    Via Facebook:

    ARNAB GOSWAMI - Infamous news anchor who has mastered the art of asking his guests prodding questions, interrupting their replies with further accusations, then yelling at them for not answering the question he didn't let them answer. His on-air fights with his guests also make for a rockin' remix.

    17. You Can Never Have Enough Hardline Right-Wing Peeps


    SUBRAMANIAN SWAMY - So, you're shootin' the breeze with your average right-wing politician, and then he very matter-of-factly states that Muslims should only be allowed to vote if they admit their Hindu ancestry. Oh, and his goal for the country is to divide the Muslims and unite the Hindus. So, you know, the usual sweet bigotry that is sure to woo the voters.

    18. You can vote for the Nail Cutter party


    The country's 1,300 registered parties can choose from a variety of symbols to represent them on the ballot. When else could you say, "I like the education policy of the Air Conditioner, but eventually voted for the Lady Purse because of its job creation plan"?

    19. Vote To...Not Vote


    India is one of the few countries to offer a None Of The Above (NOTA) option on the ballots. Wouldn't Nobody make a great leader?

    20. The Finger


    'I Voted' stickers are lame. In India, you get inked on your finger (index or middle) as proof that you have voted. You can walk around flicking people off and they would be proud that you've voted.

    21. It's The Most Convoluted Plot Ever

    Via Twitter: @mathangcito

    With over 1,300 registered parties fielding candidates for 543 parliamentary seats, and voting spread out across 9 phases over 5 weeks, political allies and enemies change on a daily basis, with way too many people fighting for the top seat. There's enough drama and twists and turns to outrun any TV soap that has ever existed...except that it's all real.

    22. ...But In The End Despite All The Crazy, Bizarre And Scary, Your Right To Vote Is One Of The Greatest Freedoms You Have.

    View this video on YouTube

    (turn on captions on the video for English subtitles)

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