The ongoing battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to claim the ticket to run for the Oval Office reached Delhi on Tuesday when the Democratic Party turned a small restaurant in Lodhi Colony into a polling booth.
For four hours in the evening, the restaurant remained a hotbed of American politics, with walls, doors, etc., decorated with the customary blue-and-white balloons, festoons and a host of other merchandise featuring the Democrats’ political symbol — a donkey — causing Delhiites passing by to look with curiosity.
Over pitchers of beer and seafood, voters bustled about debating “return of our boys from Iraq”, “healthcare expenditure”, “law on immigrants”, etc.
Looking at the jam-packed restaurant and the long queue before the ballot box, it would have been hard to believe that in the last Presidential election in 2004, only 43 per cent Americans had come out to vote.
“Being abroad, we have a better understanding of the impacts of our foreign policies. Plus, it was also fun to feel as if we were back home again,” said Elise Tosun, originally from Illinois, now working in Delhi.
This was the first time the Presidential primaries were held like this for expatriates. “Earlier, we used to vote through absentee ballots by post. There was a need to garner the support of Democrats settled outside America all over the world,” said Carolyn Sauvage-Mar, chairperson of Democrats Abroad-India, the international wing of the party.
Voters had their priorities cut out for the next US President. “The president must do something about America’s image abroad, which I think has taken a hit,” said Joe Amick from Seattle, working at the Delhi office of an economic research firm.
“America needs change,” said Jennifer. Her husband works for a private firm in Delhi.
Like it would have been in any polling booth in America, this one too had a huge share of Indian Americans. “Obama has promised to relax laws on immigrants. That’s one of the reasons why I am voting for him,” said Reva Gupta, born and raised in the US but with roots in Rajasthan. “In many ways, Obama is like what Bill Clinton was during his first presidential term,” said Tejal Shah, originally from Gujarat, raised in the US. “The president must look after domestic priorities,” Robin Bose from New Jersey added.
Some famous names like dancer Sharon Lowen also turned up to vote.
Voting will be open on February 6, 9 and 12 from 4 pm to 8 pm.