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Lok Sabha elections 2019: BJP’s NRI backers to launch support drives in 30 nations

As was done in the run up the 2014 election that saw BJP emerge victorious with 31% of the total vote share; these campaigns to support Modi and the BJP are being anchored by the overseas friends of the Bharatiya Janata Party (OFBJP), which has chapters in over 30 countries.

lok-sabha-elections Updated: Mar 30, 2019 06:36 IST
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The iconic Sydney Opera House, located in the bay of Sydney Harbour will be the venue for a programme being organised on Sunday, where the participants will discuss why it is important to support Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he leads the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to seek re-election at the Centre.
The iconic Sydney Opera House, located in the bay of Sydney Harbour will be the venue for a programme being organised on Sunday, where the participants will discuss why it is important to support Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he leads the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to seek re-election at the Centre.(PTI Photo)
         

The iconic Sydney Opera House, located in the bay of Sydney Harbour, will be the venue for a programme being organised on Sunday where the participants will discuss why it is important to support Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he leads the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) into general elections in April.

The NRI 4 NAMO meeting is not the only one of its kind. As the first phase of polling on April 11 draws near, programmes to reinforce the ruling party’s efforts to retain power will be organised in several locations outside India. NRI is short for non-resident Indian, and NAMO is an acronym comprising the initials of the PM’s name.

As was done in the run-up to the 2014 general election that saw BJP emerge victorious with 31% vote share, campaigns to support Modi and the BJP are being anchored by Overseas Friends of the Bharatiya Janata Party (OFBJP), which has chapters in at least 30 countries.

NRIs who support the party will help carry out campaigns both in India and in the countries they live in.

“The difference between 2014 and now is that, earlier these programmes were conducted extempore, and now it is more systematic since we have strengthened our support system in over 30 countries. The PM’s interactions with the diaspora itself has given the exercise a fresh impetus,” said Vijay Chauthaiwale, incharge of the BJP’s foreign affairs department, of which the OFBJP is a part.

The party is counting on supporters in countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Denmark, Malaysia and across the Gulf region.

The template followed in most of these countries is the same -- discussions over the weekends; cultural programmes and the now ubiquitous part of the BJP’s election campaign -- the “chai pe charchas” (discussions over tea) that was popularized by Modi in the 2014 election campaign.

These NRIs also reach out to friends and family in India and help in fund raising.

Jay Shah, an information technology (IT) professional who is part of the OFBJP in Australia, said at least three programmes will be organised in Australia over the weekend to muster support for Modi and his policies.

Chauthaiwale attributes the spurt in support for Modi to three major reasons.

He said issues of “national security, the development record of the Modi government and the foreign policy initiatives” have had a clear resonance on the ground.

The BJP’s campaign is also being shored up by the vast network of volunteers associated with the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, the overseas arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

BJP is not the only party relying on Indian diaspora to create a favourable atmosphere for it. Parties like Congress, Shiromani Akali Dal and Aam Admi Party also bank on the NRI pool for raising money and manpower to strengthen campaigns.

While there is no data either with the parties or the Election Commission on how many NRIs turn up to vote, 71,735 Indians abroad are registered as voters with the EC, of which 66,866 are men, 4,849 women and 20 belong to the third gender.

First Published: Mar 30, 2019 06:36 IST

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