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Posted at: Aug 11, 2018, 1:53 AM; last updated: Aug 11, 2018, 3:04 AM (IST)

MPs welcome LS move on proxy NRI voting

But just 350 are registered as voters in the state
MPs welcome LS move on proxy NRI voting

Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 10

With the Lok Sabha last night allowing the facility of voting through proxy to overseas Indians or non-resident Indians, Punjab is expected to witness change in its voter profile in the next polls, most likely the 2019 General Election.

The change, however, would not be on a large scale as a mere less than 350 overseas Indians are registered as voters in Punjab. The registration can only be done for Indian passport holders who have not acquired citizenship of any other country.

The existing rules stipulate physical presence of the overseas voters in their respective polling station (in India) on the day of polling. But as expected, not many of them turn up due to high travel costs.

The Lok Sabha last evening passed a Bill to amend the Representation of the People Act, 1951, to enable the overseas electors to appoint a proxy to cast the vote in an election on their behalf, subject to certain conditions to be laid down. The Bill will have to be approved by the Rajya Sabha before it becomes an Act.

Shiromani Akali Dal’s chief whip in Lok Sabha and Anandpur Sahib MP Prem Singh Chandumajra welcomed the move saying the “NRIs are connected to their homeland and a facility for them to vote in Indian elections is a welcome step”.

Replying to the debate on the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill, 2017, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said it was a “momentous event” and a big opportunity for the NRIs.

On apprehension of some members that the proxy provision could be misused, Prasad said rules would be framed in a way that if the law is flouted, “it will lead to cancellation of mandate”.

Largest diaspora

  • Indian diaspora is largest in the world with over 15 million (1.5 crore) of them living abroad, according to a report prepared by a UN agency last year
  • The Ministry of External Affairs, however, claims over 3.1 crore Indians are living abroad
  • India also receives the highest amount in remittances ($68.91 billion)


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