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NRIs eye prosperity wave in Punjab

An estimated 50,000 NRIs are in the state to throw their weight behind the candidates, reports Jatin Gandhi.

india Updated: Feb 09, 2007 03:48 IST

It is raining NRIs in Punjab. With India clocking an impressive growth rate and making waves the world over, an estimated 50,000 NRIs are in the state to throw their weight behind the candidates.

The community wants a stake in the prosperity wave and the easiest way to do it is to tap those who will rule the state for the next five years.

“This election is different from those in the past. For the first time, NRIs are supporting parties and their candidates on such a large scale,” says Resham Singh Hayer, president of the NRI Sabha, an association of NRIs that works for the community’s interest.

Hayer says the election has provided an opportunity to NRIs to visit their relatives and explore future prospects in Punjab at the same time. “There are more than 50,000 NRIs camping in Punjab this election,” says Manjit Singh Dasuya, senior vice-president of the North American unit of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).

The unit, he says, is chipping in with both time and money for the electoral battle, but is not willing to reveal the amount that has been pumped in.

“The NRIs are spending their own money on the campaign and travel. Some have thrown lavish parties for candidates. Even if each one of them spends a few thousand dollars each, the money flowing in is enormous,” said Pritam Singh Narangpur, former president of NRI Sabha.

The lush expanse is making way for mega projects and malls and NRI investments are at an all- time high. Land prices have shot up from several thousands an acre from the last election to a few crores now. The community obviously wants a stake in the multiplying millions. “We left Punjab for better prospects abroad. If investing in Punjab means profits, why should our children live thousands of miles away from home,” said Mohan Singh, a transport business owner from Montreal, who has been camping in his native village Chabbewal for the past month to campaign for a friend.

“We want the government to promise that our investment will be safe. In return, we will campaign for them. Our village alone has 25 families with relatives abroad. Our word does matter,” he said.

Email Jatin Gandhi: jatin.gandhi@hindustantimes.com

First Published: Feb 09, 2007 03:48 IST