Best memes as Indians react to unexpectedly close election: ‘Public is smart’

Indians flooded social media with memes and jokes as the vote count in the elections put an unexpected spin on the outcome on Tuesday, with Narendra Modi’s party falling short of the landslide victory predicted in the exit polls.

Mr Modi’s boisterous claim of a thumping victory appeared to have fallen short as the opposition INDIA bloc performed much better than projected, trailing closely behind the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led pre-poll alliance.

Mr Modi had claimed that the BJP would win 370 seats and the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) cross the 400-seat mark. During election campaigns BJP leaders popularised the slogan “abki bar 400 paar (this time, above 400), that mememakers swooped upon after the party failed to deliver.

A party needs a simple majority of 272 seats in the 543-member lower house of parliament to come to power.

As trends showed that the BJP failed to win a majority by themselves, people on social media began to roast them and the television channels that have been blamed for their government-leaning coverage under Mr Modi’s leadership.

“Irrespective of the results, there will be less hatred in the parliament,” posted the handle Polytikles.

Another user contemplated what the BJP’s supporters might be feeling, looking at the results.

In one of the most shocking outcomes, the BJP’s alliance in the bellwether state of Uttar Pradesh – which accounts for 80 parliament seats – was trailing behind INDIA.

“Forgive me, Uttar Pradesh. I was not familiar with your ninja moves,” wrote author and historian Narayani Basu.

The BJP’s poor performance in the holy city of Ayodhya where Mr Modi’s party had led the election campaign on building the Ram Temple at the site contested with Muslims also came as a surprise. It comes months after Mr Modi inaugurated the temple, a topic that remained at the centre of BJP’s election campaign and its win in the previous election.

BJP trailed behind the Samajwadi Party with a significant margin on the seat.

A meme claimed people were enlightened after seeking blessing from the new-constructed temple in Ayodhya.

Several videos also circulated of pollster Pradeep Gupta breaking down on India Today’s live coverage and anchors consoling him after the results upended the exit poll prediction by his agency.

A user shared a picture of an actress praying with a lit lamp in her hand with the quip: “Meloni ji right now.” Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni and Mr Modi’s friendship has made waves on social media since they met at the G20 summit in Indonesia in 2022.

A hashtag #Melodi dedicated to the two also went viral as people shipped them on social media.

Indian stocks saw the biggest loss in four years as bonds and the rupee tanked after NDA and BJP’s lacklustre show. It was after markets’ stellar rally on Monday as the exit polls over the weekend predicted 350 seats for the BJP alone.

Adani Group-linked companies, owned by billionaire Gautam Adani lost big on Tuesday. Mr Adani is known for his close ties with Mr Modi.