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India readying blueprint for voting rights to NRIs

This has been a long-standing demand of the Indians living in the Gulf.

india Updated: Jan 14, 2006 11:17 IST

A Cabinet note is being drafted to extend voting rights to non-resident Indians, which has been a long-standing demand of Indians in the Gulf, Minister of State for Overseas Indian Affairs Oscar Fernandes said in New Delhi on Friday.

"This matter will have to go to the Cabinet. We will take it up soon," Fernandes said, referring to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's remark in Hyderabad last week that Gulf Indians had a "convincing political basis" in demanding voting rights.

"This proposal is at an advanced stage of consideration by our Government. We hope to take appropriate measures in this regard soon," the Prime Minister had told at the inaugural session of the Pravasi Bharita Divas in Hyderabad on January 7.

According to Fernandes, the despatch of overseas Indian citizenship cards to the 8,000-odd applicants will begin this month. He said the Government was expecting 50,000 more applications soon.

Fernandes admitted there were a few glitches in accepting applications earlier, but said all procedural irritants had been removed and Indian missions abroad and Foreigners Regional Registration Offices in India were geared for the process.

The first set of two overseas Indian citizenship cards were issued to two Indian Americans by Manmohan Singh during the Diaspora conclave. He had also promised to rationalise its categories to ensure convergence of benefits for such cards.

First Published: Jan 13, 2006 21:07 IST