In India, the world’s largest democracy, a large number of people do not get to vote in the elections. Many of those who have a vote do not want to punch their choice on the EVM. Due to geographical reasons, many villages and settlements remain outside this process.
But in recent years, we are seeing more efforts to ensure the participation of NRIs in the Indian election process. The Prime Minister promised this at an NRI forum meeting. Many political parties also are keen. Why?
NRIs in the last 15 years have become a major source of funds for almost all political parties. They arrange lecture tours, provide hospitality and funds. If they become voters, it would change the political scenario. Most NRIs having been exposed to foreign culture, including political culture and would influence the agenda of the political parties to suit their interests. Politics of local resources are not of interest to them, because they do not need them. NRIs would be a constituency without a obligation.
Seizing such an opportunity, Nationalist Congress Party has started a company, NCP Inc in the US. Two cabinet Ministers, Mr. Sharad Pawar and Mr. Praful Patel, flew to US to be present on the occasion. They assured the audience that they would use their ‘good’ offices to get any work done. NCP Inc, it was declared, was established to help business interests in US with lobbying services in India. A complaint was filed about this, before the Election Commission, with no result.
All political parties seem to be interested in developing a new constituency to tilt the electoral prospects. NRI participation would lead to a serious blow to the domestic political process, undermining the efforts of public struggles for positive and growth-oriented public policies. As it is, disadvantaged sections of society, especially tribals, farmers, handloom weavers, primary small producers, small-scale industry units, are all facing difficulties in including their concerns and aspiration in the policy agenda. Any unorganised group, whose voting pattern may not be uniform, is not responded to by any political party. All political parties respond to ‘suits and suitcases’.
In this scenario, we should be very worried about the factor of NRIs, who do not understand the politics related to various issues in India, especially those related to natural resource ownerships.