The Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared a proposal to extend proxy voting to overseas Indians. The government will soon bring a bill that will amend the Representation of the People Act to make proxy voting for NRIs a reality. Nearly 16 million NRIs will be then able to vote in Indian elections by appointing proxies residing in their constituencies to cast their votes. According to senior officials in the government, PM Modi was very clear that generations of Indians travelling abroad were different from the earlier NRIs.
“He has always said there should be only brain gain now, no brain drain and that today’s NRIs were as Indian as people here. They want the country to grow. Today’s NRIs love the country, unlike the yesteryear NRIs who wanted to just run away from the country,” a senior government official said. The decision aims to make the small but influential NRI community feel connected with the country. “The numbers are not an issue.
In a country of so many people, a few votes would hardly matter. It is only about sending out that message,” the official said. At the moment, NRIs have to fly back to India to cast their votes, an option exercised only by 12,000 overseas voters. A senior government official said the government had considered two options to avoid this inconvenience: To send ballot papers electronically and receive the same back after the voter posts it to the nearest embassy or consulate, treating them as postal ballots. The second was to allow vote by proxy like in the case of an option already available to service personnel in India.
The only condition is that the proxy voter should be an ordinary resident of the constituency one is voting in.