Notwithstanding the claims of the state and the central governments about involving non-resident Indians (NRIs) in the country’s overall development, a key move to give voting rights to NRIs has received disappointing response in the past four years.
Data obtained from the Election Commission and the Punjab State NRI Sabha office here, only 136 NRIs have registered themselves as voters, out of the over 5 lakh Punjabi NRIs estimated by the sabha. Last date for registration of voters is April 9.
In 2010, the Indian government had announced registration of overseas NRIs under the Representation of People Act, 1950, by amending the law to include their names in the electoral rolls of the constituency mentioned on their passports after proper verification. Before the amendment, NRIs were given voting rights only if they had stayed in the constituency for at least nine months before the voting day.
In the 2012 assembly elections, only three NRIs had registered for voting.
Additional deputy commissioner (ADC) Paramjit Singh termed the slow response as “sad”. “The low number is only because of lack of interest shown by NRIs. We have the simplest process that any government can have for registration,” he opined. Punjab NRI Sabha head Jasvir Singh Shergill said that more awareness needed to be created.