NRI voting: PM holds out hope, Tharoor picks holes in bill | delhi | Hindustan Times
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NRI voting: PM holds out hope, Tharoor picks holes in bill

delhi Updated: Jan 10, 2010 01:19 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times

The Congress has “taken cognizance” of Shashi Tharoor’s statement endorsing a critique on the foreign policy approach of Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi as “a moralistic running commentary”, sources said on Saturday.

However, the minister of state for external affairs seems to be inviting more trouble.

A day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he was “sincerely hoping” NRIs would vote in the 2014 general elections, Tharoor told a gathering of NRIs from the Gulf at the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas that if the draft bill was not changed, it would not be a meaningful exercise.

“So far, the draft of the bill in the Rajya Sabha says that you will have to come back to India to cast your vote. Unless that draft is changed, it won’t be a real gift for the pravasis,” Tharoor said.

He indicated that it was too early to celebrate because most NRIs would not be able to travel back to the country to vote.

Even as he congratulated the government for piloting the bill, Tharoor said in a lighter vein that he had mooted the same idea far before the Prime Minister.

“In the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2003, I had proposed this as a pravasi and had been unanimously shouted down,” he said.

“It took my coming back, and contesting and becoming an MP and Minister for this to come closer to reality…”

His remarks in the presence of British MP Bikhu Parekh, who had earlier made a critical assessment of the policies
of Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi had irked Tharoor’s party.

“I agree with Parekh’s opinion on Nehru and Gandhi’s foreign policies. It was more like a moralistic running commentary,” Tharoor said at an event on Friday organised by the association of Indian diplomats and the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA).

“We have taken cognizance of the statement and a response will be enunciated after appropriate consultations,” a Congress source said.