The convenience of social media, and the entry of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to the Punjab polls have generated huge interest among non-resident Indians from the state who are following the polls point by point. When the Elections Commission (EC) begins counting of votes on Saturday, the diaspora have taken leave from duties and made special arrangements in their respective cities to be part of the mega-event.
Earlier, on polling day February 4, non-resident Punjabis tracked the polling through 4,000 webcams installed on the polling stations by the EC.
“We have made all arrangements to make viewing of the counting an event,” said Yadvinder Singh Sidhu over telephone from Vancouver, Canada. Here, AAP supporters have booked a banquet hall and invited people to join the viewing. “In case the AAP wins, the event will end in celebrations. In case of different results, anyway it will be thrilling to see the results,” Sidhu added.
Similar arrangements have been made in Toronto, at a a marriage hall in Brampton. “It’s a different kind of euphoria here this time,” said owner of a radio channel, Pravasi News, Rajinder Saini.
“Non-resident Punjabis have been supporting political parties of Punjab during elections for past many years, but this time the there is different kind of excitement and everyone here has got involved,” he said, adding that people have turned the counting into an event of celebrations “like weddings and birthdays”.
Similar arrangements have been made in California, USA. “Punjabis are excited here,” said Tony Bhandal, a resident of San Ramon, a suburb in the San Francisco bay area.
Gurinder Singh Matharoo, a Punjabi businessman in Adelaide, Australia, along with a group of friends, has kept Saturday free for viewing the results.
The desi media, Punjabi websites, radio channels and media slot owners have made special arrangements to air programmes for the diaspora. Balwinder Singh, who runs a radio programme, said, “I am talking to my journalist friends in Punjab, and taking feedback about the political scenario.”
Joban Randhawa, AAP’s overseas youth convener, said a large number of non-resident Punjabis have reached the state. “We are very positive about our party’s fortune, and after the results more Punjabi diaspora would reach to take active part in state affairs,” he said.
‘Don’t tease losers’
The EC on Friday issued an advisory that those winning in Saturday’s counting should not tease the losers. “It would necessarily lead to hard feelings, and we don’t want any disturbance or tension to be created at the last juncture when everything has gone off peacefully,” said chief electoral officer, Punjab, VK Singh.
VK Singh toured the state on Wednesday and Thursday to oversee arrangements, and met a number of candidates, urging them to forget the bitterness of the campaigning days.
Big screens at key places
The EC has made arrangements for public viewing of the poll results. At key places in Jalandhar, Amritsar, Ludhiana and Patiala, the EC is putting up big screens for the general public to watch the results. “We want to involve people in the final process of the polling too,” said VK Singh.