UAE accounts for 10% of the roughly 30m strong Indian diaspora, many of whom have been clamouring for the right to vote without travelling to India
While remaining non-comittal, Indian National Congress (INC) President, Rahul Gandhi, has said he is not against the idea of having non-resident Indians (NRIs) vote while abroad in elections in India.
“It is something that I find to be an interesting idea,” Gandhi said in response to a question posed by Arabian Business during a conference in Dubai on Saturday evening.
Currently only NRI service personnel are able to vote in elections in India by nominating a proxy in the country.
A bill that would allow a wider segment of NRIs to vote in the current elections was passed by the lower house of the Indian Parliament (Lok Sabha) last year.
It was due to be introduced by the Narendra Modi-led government in the upper house of the Indian parliament (Rajya Sabha) in December.
However, Gandhi’s party opposed its introduction on the grounds that further discussions needed to take place with the house’s Business Advisory Committee as well as the election commission on how to define ‘migrant workers’ before the bill could be debated and passed.
Approximately 30 million Indians reside outside India with those in the UAE comprising 10 percent of the number – the largest number of Indian expats anywhere in the world.
In his two-day visit to the UAE that lasted until Saturday, Gandhi met with a number of key business leaders who have pressed for the INC to add the ability for NRIs to vote to the party’s manifesto.
“I think we are all for more representation for NRIs,” he said.
However, he said it would be “unlikely” that NRIs would be able to vote in the 2019 elections, “because that will require legislation and a longer conversation.”