EC, Govt defer on modalities for NRI enrolment in voters list

Millions of NRIs wishing to get voting rights may have to wait a little longer to see their names in electoral rolls as differences between the government and the EC have resulted in delay in finalising modalities for enrolment.

Last Updated: Dec 21, 2010, 19:01 PM IST

New Delhi: Millions of NRIs wishing to
get voting rights may have to wait a little longer to see
their names in electoral rolls as differences between the
government and the Election Commission have resulted in delay
in finalising modalities for enrolment.

Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi today
said two rounds of discussions were held among Election
Commission, External Affairs Ministry and his Ministry to
finalise the modalities but consensus eluded them.
Parliament had in the Monsoon session passed the
Representation of People (Amendment) Bill, 2010 to allow NRIs
to vote in Indian elections and subsequently government had
issued a gazette notification in this regard.

"The Election Commission had made some suggestions for
entry of NRIs in electoral rolls which we felt had some
practical difficulties. We suggested to them that the
procedure should be simple and practical," Ravi said.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, addressing the Pravasi
Bhartiya Divas earlier this year, had indicated that Indian
passport holders living abroad could get voting rights by the
time of next Lok Sabha elections in 2014.

Ravi said NRIs, "who have not acquired citizenship of
any other country and are living abroad owing to employment,
education or otherwise, are eligible to register their names
in the electoral rolls" in their places as mentioned in their
passport.

Officials indicated that the EC had suggested that
Indian Missions should throughly examine credentials of an
applicant before his or her name is included in electoral
rolls but Ministry of External Affairs apparently opposed the
idea saying it would be difficult for the embassies to take
that much of workload.
Ravi said he will meet External Affairs Minister S M
Krishna shortly to discuss the issue.

An estimated 11 million NRIs are living in various
countries across the world and voting rights has been a
longstanding demand of the community.

According to the amendment, an NRI will be able to
exercise the franchise only if he or she is present in the
constituency on the polling day.

As per the existing rules, an NRI`s name gets deleted
from the voters list if he or she stays outside the country
for more than six months at a stretch.

The new law will allow an Indian citizen residing
abroad to enrol in voter`s list and exercise his franchise
even if he or she remained away from place of residence in
India for more than six months owing to employment, education
or otherwise.

PTI