Pitching for overseas Indians’ support, BJP seeks 2014 postal ballots (Roundup)

New Delhi, Jan 6 (IANS) Pitching for support of overseas Indians, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Monday said it would move the Election Commission in the next three days to allow eligible non-resident Indians (NRIs) to vote through postal ballots in the 2014 elections.

A resolution was adopted at the “global meeting” organised by the Overseas Friends of Bharatiya Janata Party (OFBJP) here, saying: “NRIs be permitted to vote by postal ballot in 2014 polls.”
Several senior leaders of the party, including L.K. Advani, Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Jaswant Singh and M. Venkaiah Naidu, addressed the gathering and strongly pitched for support of overseas Indians in the party’s poll effort for this year’s Lok Sabha polls.
OFBJP members said representatives from 32 countries attended the global meet, being held for the first time.
They said the party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, who was to address the gathering through video-conferencing, could not do so due to “problems in linkage caused by weather conditions”.
BJP president Rajnath Singh, who inaugurated the meet, said the party would get a “clear majority” in the Lok Sabha elections.
He gave credit to overseas Indians for providing economic stability after India’s 1998 nuclear tests.
“The UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government has hurt the country’s credibility in its 10-year rule … If any party has a firm commitment and strong leadership, it is the BJP,” Rajnath Singh said.
“The country believes that a government is going to be formed with a clear majority of the BJP,” he said, adding that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi deserved to be the prime minister.
He said BJP has a target of winning 272-plus seats in the polls.
“The BJP will succeed in making the country a superpower with your cooperation,” he said and noted that there were over 22 million overseas Indians who can make valuable contribution in the endeavour.
Advani, who addressed the valedictory session, said “there was enthusiasm” for Modi in the country.
He said BJP would have formed the government in Delhi along with the three states from where it won the assembly polls held November-December 2013 if Harsh Vardhan had been earlier projected as the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate.
He added that if there had been further delay in projecting Harsh Vardhan, the Aam Aadmi Party would have won the elections.
Recalling the 1977 elections after Emergency when Congress faced severe reverses, Advani said the “atmosphere today was of anger (against the UPA government)”.
He said the BJP had finished Congress’s “monopoly” in politics and made the polity bipolar.
Advani said BJP was committed to clean politics and “idealism and ideology” were key elements to the party’s approach to politics.
“The year 2014 can be a major turning point in history of this country. You can also contribute,” Advani told the gathering.
Jaitley, who launched a global OFBJP website, said some flagship programmes of UPA government were not creating assets.
Vijay Jolly, convenor of OFBJP, urged overseas Indians to make telephone calls and send out 10 e-mails to their relatives and friends in India every day soliciting support for the BJP.
The meeting called upon overseas Indians to make extensive use of modern day communication and mobilise funds in favour of the BJP.
Party leaders said the present provisions allow non-resident Indians to vote “if they were registered voters and physically present” at the time of elections but very few were able to exercise their franchise.
They said the BJP proposes to demand postal ballots for them.
Several delegates, in their introductory remarks, hailed Modi’s leadership.
Rajnath Singh, in his speech, also said that the BJP would create conditions to facilitate greater flow of foreign direct investment by NRIs if it came to power.
He said the Indian diaspora was the second largest in the world after the Chinese but its contribution to the country’s foreign direct investment was almost a fourth compared to that of Chinese diaspora.
Rajnath Singh urged the US to have a relook at the Border Security Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernisation Act as it was causing problems to Indian engineers.
He also favoured evolving some mechanism under which NRIs could get their children admitted to Indian Institutes of Technology and other institutions of excellence in India.