Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited nearly 84 countries since June 2014, minister of state for external affairs V K Singh shared in the Rajya Sabha last month. According to Singh’s reply, Modi visited 24 countries in 2015-16 followed by 19 in 2017-18 and 18 in 2016-17. In 2014-15, Modi visited 13 countries, including his first as prime minister to Bhutan, in June 2014. In 2018, he travelled to 10 countries with the last one being to China in June.
Modi’s foreign travels have been hotly debated. Many think this boosted India’s global image, but the prime minister’s critics see his foreign travels as wastage of time and resources. Similarly, there is a lot of difference of opinion on the impact of Modi’s travels on India’s foreign relations.
However, few can deny that Modi gained a large number of non-resident Indian (NRI) supporters during his travels abroad where they used to come in hordes to listen to his speeches.
Next year, Modi might reap the benefits of his outreach to NRIs. A Bill to extend the facility of proxy voting to overseas Indians, on the lines of service voters, was passed by the Lok Sabha on Thursday. Moving the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill 2017 for consideration and passage, law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the provision would help NRIs participate in the electoral process.
The Bill proposes that an overseas Indian, who is entitled to vote in India, can now appoint a proxy voter to cast his vote. As of now, overseas Indians were free to cast their votes in the constituencies where they were registered. The Bill seeks to give them the option of proxy voting, which till now was only available to service personnel.
There are about one crore NRIs in the countries that PM Modi has visited since November 2014. Thousands must have attended his events in these countries.
With 543 Lok Sabha constituencies, the total number of 1.1 crore NRIs means an average of 21,000 NRI votes per constituency. Plus, NRIs can also influence families back home in India. With winning margins going down with every election, that’s significant.
Given Modi’s power to influence masses with his speeches and that his message of nationalism must have resonated with a large number of NRIs, proxy voting rights to NRIs can turn out to be a big poll bonanza, which can boost the performance of the NDA in the next Lok Sabha elections.
Source: Economic Times