Alia Bhatt turned 21 last month. So you’d think that the Mumbai resident (the Bhatts live in Juhu) would be casting her vote in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
But the young actor won’t actually be able to vote, come April 24. She is a British passport holder, and, therefore, does not have Indian citizenship.
"Unfortunately, I can’t vote because I have a British passport," Alia says. She even mentioned the same thing in passing at a recent event in the city. But she also tells us, "I am past the date (to get the official documents for voting) this time around, but I will try and get my voting card the next time (elections) once I get my dual citizenship (sic; India does not actually allow dual citizenship)."
But even though she can’t vote herself, she says she’s trying to do her bit to motivate others to do so: "I’ve been encouraging the youth to go out there and vote, because, I feel, if there’s any change, it will happen through them. If I’m not mistaken, there are 12 crore new, young voters this time. Even if half of those 12 crore go out and do their bit, it will make a difference," she says.
Ask the actor’s father, Mahesh Bhatt, about this, and he explains that "Alia’s mother, Soni (Razdan, Birmingham-born), is of British origin. So, Alia automatically acquired the citizenship of that country… As Alia has said, she is trying to fulfil the formalities and go through processes in order to get the rights to exercise her franchise (in the next elections)."
"Unfortunately, India doesn’t allow dual citizenship — at least till now. Efforts have been on to find a way out, but there hasn’t been any result. And my problem is that if I give up my US passport, I will be required to pay 10 years’ tax in advance. So I don’t know what to do (smiles)," he says.