A large group of Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) on Friday held a protest outside the Indian High Commission here to demand the right to vote in Indian elections without having to travel to their natives homes.
Protesters, mobilised by the campaign group Pravasi Bharat, carried placards and raised slogans demanding changes to the election law which requires them to be physically present in the constituencies where they are registered to vote.
In a memorandum addressed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and handed to the High Commission, the group said millions of Indians living abroad felt effectively disenfranchised as it was “practically impossible” for them to travel to India for the specific purpose of voting.
“There is an important principle at stake: all citizens should have equal rights, regardless of where they happen to be at election time,” said the memorandum.
Calling for the introduction of postal ballot or online voting for NRIs eligible to vote, it pointed out that many countries such as Britain, America and Canada allowed for postal voting for their overseas citizens.
A separate memorandum addressed to the Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath was also handed to the High Commission.
“There are about eight million Indian citizens living abroad – that is a very significant number of votes and could make a huge difference to the outcome in marginal constituencies,” chairman of Pravasi Bharat, Nagender Chindam said.