Voting rights for NRI passport holders by 2014
;Statesman News Service
New Delhi, 8 Jan: Indian passport holders living abroad could get voting rights by the time of next Lok Sabha elections in 2014, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh indicated today.
Inaugurating Pravasi Bharatiya Divas celebrations here, Dr Singh said he recognises the “legitimate desire” of Indians living abroad to exercise their franchise and to have a say in who governs India.
“We are working on this issue and I sincerely hope that they will get a chance to vote by the time of the next regular general elections,” Dr Singh told the gathering of 1,500 overseas Indians from 40 countries.
“In fact, I would go a step further and ask why more overseas Indians should not return home to join politics and public life as they are increasingly doing in business and academia,” he said.
Officials later said the voting rights could be extended to Indian passport holders and those having Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) cards will not be eligible for it.
Elaborating later on the Prime Minister's statement, minister for overseas Indian affairs Mr Vayalar Ravi said that the government is planning to introduce a Bill in the next session of Parliament to facilitate voting rights for non-resident Indians.
The government had moved a Bill in Rajya Sabha in 2006 proposing amendments to the Representation of People's Act to make provision for voting rights to non-resident Indians.
The Bill was sent to a Parliamentary Standing Committee which had given its report. It was later referred to the law ministry where it is pending.
Under the existing law, the name of an NRI gets deleted from the voters' list if he stays more than six months at a stretch outside the country.
In the wake of racist attacks on Indians abroad, the PM also said: “We are conscious of the need to structure an appropriate return and resettlement fund. We are working on a project to provide a social security safety net for the returning workers,” he said.
The PM said India has been negotiating with the governments of countries with large emigrant Indian populations to improve their welfare and protection, adding that pacts had been signed with Malaysia, Bahrain and Qatar in this regard.
“We also signed social security agreements last year with Switzerland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands and are now negotiating such agreements with a number of other countries,” he said.
It is heartening to see that the government is so worried of our NRIs that they are being given voting rights although they live abroad.But will that allow them to vote?
Reminds me of a Hindi saying "Diya Tale Andhera", meaning there is darkness below a lamp.
I, being born in Kolkata, having a voter ID card cannot cast my vote because my name has been deleted from the voters list.
Could I ask on what basis are names deleted from the voter list?
Do the officers just sit in their chambers with political party functionaries and decide whose names are deleted, without giving a chance to the concerned person by interviewing him at his home?
Is this democracy?
I had written to the state election commissioner before the parliamentary elections to have my name included in the list but till date, it has not been included.
In the meantime, I could not cast my vote during both the elections.
So, the above news item just makes me laugh.