A delegation of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders met Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath on Wednesday to seek the introduction of a mechanism that would allow Non Resident Indians (NRIs) to cast their ballot in the forthcoming general elections.
NRIs were given voting rights in 2010 through an amendment in the Representation of People Act, 1951. With the amendment, NRIs can exercise their voting rights, but have to be registered in electoral rolls of the constituency where they are listed as residents before leaving India and have to be present on the day of election in the constituency.
The convenor of BJP's NRI cell Vijay Jolly, who led the delegation to the Election Commission, said a majority of the NRIs are unable to vote as they have to travel all the way to India.
“The overseas Indian community is spread across every major region in the world. It is practically impossible to have millions of people, travel to India at the same time,” the petitions to the EC said, adding nearly 1,00,37,761 NRIs are being denied their right to vote.
The BJP which has sought a mechanism for allowing the NRIs to vote has proposed initiating a postal ballot facility or voting at an Indian Mission abroad or online voting to allow them to participate in elections.
“Postal ballot forms can be made available either at the official website of Election Commission of India or can be provided through Indian Consulates overseas posts. NRIs could then post it back to the specified address. Such Ballots can be marked and sent after nomination closure date along with their Identification proof as specified by Election Commission of India. Citizens should be allowed to use E-POST Service or Indian Embassy Service,” the petition says.
The BJP delegation also cited the example of 115 countries which have granted their nationals abroad, postal ballot facility including US, UK, Canada, Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Lithuania, Hungary, Mexico, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Nepal.