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Indian passports may help NRIs vote

NRIs holding Indian passports, if present in the country at the time of polls, may be considered for voting.
By Press Trust of India | PTI, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 30, 2005 05:02 AM IST

The Government is considering a proposal to allow Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) holding Indian passports to vote in the elections in the country, Overseas Indians Minister Jagdish Tytler told the Rajya Sabha on Friday.

"We are very seriously considering the proposal made by political leaders from Kerala in this regard," Tytler said intervening in the discussion on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which was later unanimously passed by the House.

He said those NRIs holding Indian passports, if they present in the country at the time of elections, may be considered for voting, subject to clearance by the Election Commission.

The Bill, which replaces an ordinance issued on June 12, provides for dual citizenship for People of Indian Origin (PIO) and Non-Resident Indians from 16 countries excluding Pakistan and Bangladesh.

But the bill makes it clear that People of Indian Origin and NRIs entitled to dual citizenship would, however, not have the right to franchise or seek elections to Parliament or State Assemblies. The dual citizenship facility was mainly for hassle-free and frequent entry into the country.

Winding up the discussion, Minister of State for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal said laws in 71 countries allowed dual citizenship and the Government would gradually extend this facility to overseas citizens of India in course of time.

But in case of Pakistan and Bangladesh, he said, the dual citizenship was not being considered as at the time of partition the people had voluntarily opted to become citizens of those countries.

PIOs and NRIs in other countries had gone there in search of jobs and were still emotionally attached to India and were keen to contribute to the development of the country, he said.

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