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Pravasis promised voting rights, again

delhi Updated: Jan 05, 2011 23:56 IST
Prasad Nichenametla

With several states including Kerala going to polls this year, minister for overseas Indian affairs Vayalar Ravi said efforts were on to give voting rights to overseas Indians "at the earliest".

At last year's Pravasi Bharaitya Divas, Prime Minister Manmohan had promised voting rights for NRIs by the "next regular general elections".

Though Parliament passed an amendment to The Representation of People (Amendment) Act in August followed by Gazette notification, the process is stuck in modalities.

"It is an important issue concerning lakhs of NRIs. We along with law ministry are sorting out with the Election Commission on pattern of registration," Ravi said in run up to Pravasi Bharaitya Divas, the annual meet of expats, slated to begin on Friday.

If the plan works out, NRIs possessing Indian passport can vote (Lok Sabha and state assemblies) at designated polling booth on voting day in the constituency according to address in their passport. There are more than 11 million NRIs in various countries, apart from PIOs who would not be eligible to use their franchise here.

The Election Commission wants physical verification of those NRIs registering.

"We suggested online registration followed by verification later (when the person is available)," Ravi said, adding that the NRIs would feature in a separate list with every polling booth.