Strained Indo-Canadian ties dampen Punjabi NRIs’ interest in poll : The Tribune India

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Strained Indo-Canadian ties dampen Punjabi NRIs’ interest in poll

Strained Indo-Canadian ties dampen Punjabi NRIs’ interest in poll

Participants at an ‘NRI milni’ programme in Nawanshahr. - File photo



Tribune News Service

Deepkamal Kaur and Neha Walia

Jalandhar, May 15

Unlike previous polls, NRIs are staying away from the poll this time. The killing of a young farmer at the Shambhu border, the imposition of the National Security Act against Waris Punjab De chief Amritpal Singh and strained Indo-Canadian relations after the killing of Hardeep Nijjar are cited to be the reasons. They are reportedly disillusioned with the Centre.

...but keen on extending support to Amritpal

  • Only Amritpal Singh, lodged in the Dibrugarh jail and contesting as an Independent from Khadoor Sahib, seems to be grabbing the attention as is apparent from the conversation with a cross-section of residents in the constituency
  • Sukhdev S Phagwara, coordinator, political wing, Alliance of Sikh Organisations, says, “There has been a growing sentiment among the NRIs that we could not help Waris Punjab De founder Deep Sidhu. We must not let it happen to Amritpal Singh”

Unlike in 2014 when NRIs were hosting fund-raising dinners for the candidates of different parties, there is no activity visible on the ground. Even leaders of overseas units of different parties had participated in the campaigning previously.

The NRIs from the Doaba region are watching silently. The Majha belt, known for its distinct politics and ‘panthic influence’ on the elections, is also not involved directly this time.

Only Amritpal Singh, lodged in the Dibrugarh jail and contesting as an Independent from Khadoor Sahib, seems to be grabbing the attention as was apparent from conversation with a cross-section of residents in the constituency.

Sukhdev S Phagwara, coordinator, political wing, Alliance of Sikh Organisations, says, “There has been a growing sentiment among the NRIs that we could not help Waris Punjab De founder Deep Sidhu. We must not let that happen to Amritpal Singh”.

Farmers not allowing the entry of BJP leaders in their villages has led to NRIs remaining silent. The NRIs in the urban areas are also not expressing preferences openly. Jatinder Jay Minhas, a Canadian NRI from Adampur and NRI Sabha, Punjab, chairperson Parvinder Kaur Banga has said, “The Punjabi diaspora is completely disillusioned”.

She added, “We were promised better functioning of NRI police stations and special NRI courts again and again. Nothing has happened till date”.

In Amritsar, Taranjit Singh Sandhu Samundri has openly stated in his poll rallies that US-based Indian American lobbies of businessmen will invest Rs 850 crore for the start-ups, employment generation and tourism industry in Amritsar. With a promise of development, Sandhu’s campaign is built upon the promise of bringing investment from the NRIs and businessmen to the holy city.

On the other hand, SAD (A) candidate Imaan Singh Mann says that the Punjabi diaspora has always been interested in Punjab. He says that the diaspora wants open borders with Pakistan for trade and commerce benefits.

“The reason the Amritsar seat is keenly watched by the diaspora, whether they are directly involved or not is because many of them want peace and open trade with Pakistan. Shutting down the border has impacted the economy of the region,” he says. “After the extra-territorial killing of Nijjar in Canada and attack on Gurpatwant Pannun in the USA, there are some concerns among the diaspora, which have been now raised by Canadian and US governments,” says Mann.

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