Lok Sabha Election

BJP enlists NRIs to pull in votes

Email marketing flat vector conceptual illustration. Letters flies to mobile phone with mailbox on its screen.

Email marketing flat vector conceptual illustration. Letters flies to mobile phone with mailbox on its screen.

Aware of the influence the Non-resident Indian (NRI) population has, even if they do not have the vote themselves, the BJP has roped in NRIs to campaign for the party. And the focus, in keeping with the party’s campaign imperatives, has been on Bengali-speaking NRIs.

More than 300 Bengali-speaking volunteers have signed up for the effort, as the BJP aims to make significant gains in West Bengal.

While the efforts in 2014 were more ad hoc and less organised, this time the party’s foreign policy cell has made elaborate efforts to reach out. According to Vijay Chauthaiwale, the cell’s chief, e-mails with an attached proforma were sent to NRIs in various countries, including to those who volunteered in 2014.

‘700 firm responses’

“Around 6,000 mails were responded to, we got 700 firm responses on those willing to campaign in India, with correctly filled out forms, etc.,” said a party official, speaking on condition of anonymity. The travel and other costs would be borne by the campaigners themselves, the BJP official clarified.

The proforma included, apart from biographical details, information on which State the person belonged to, which constituency did his/her home in India fall within, and whether the NRI would like to come to India or organise campaign events in her/his country of residence.

Besides getting the NRIs to influence their friends and relatives in India, Mr. Chauthaiwale said the overseas campaign events had the potential to have a spin-off impact here, thanks to social media’s reach.

“We have asked those campaigning from abroad to start WhatsApp groups with friends and relatives, hold group meetings in their areas; there have been many such meetings over the last two weekends in the U.S. itself, which I have addressed via Skype,” Mr. Chauthaiwale said.

“Sometimes, an influential academic from abroad could address meetings in colleges here via Skype or video link,” he said.

Among the most active NRIs were those from the U.S., the U.K. (where a car rally in support of the BJP’s campaign was held recently), the Gulf countries and Australia. The party official said that apart from Bengali-speaking volunteers, the largest groups were from Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.

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Printable version | May 15, 2022 11:28:43 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/lok-sabha-2019/bjp-enlists-nris-to-pull-in-votes/article26689493.ece