Kerala to ensure diaspora votes in assembly polls: Minister

Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 1 (IANS) The Kerala government on Tuesday said it is determined to ensure the diaspora from the state casts its vote online in the upcoming assembly polls.

“The state government will do everything it can to enable online voting for the Kerala diaspora and for that we will soon meet the prime minister, the Centre and the election authorities to see that this becomes a reality,” said state Diaspora Minister K.C. Joseph in the Kerala assembly.

Joseph’s statement came after treasury benches legislator P. Ubaidullah raised the issue that for five decades the Kerala diaspora has been the backbone of the state economy.

“As per the latest figures, the remittances of our diaspora have by now crossed one lakh crore rupees and this has become the single biggest reason for the development of the state,” Ubaidullah said.

“But the sad thing is that this section of our people has no role in the electoral process of exercising their franchise. We should ensure that we see that this happens during the upcoming assembly polls,” he added.

Joseph informed the house that now all the diaspora can get their names included in the ration cards.

“Ahead of the recently held civic body polls, we decided to include all the diaspora in the voters’ lists. And in an all-party meeting called to discuss on how to enable the diaspora to cast their votes, there was consensus that there cannot be proxy voting,” the minister said.

“The Left opposition was not keen on online voting. As a result what happened was it was just 13,000 diaspora who got their names included in the voters’ lists and from that, very few people actually cast their votes as they had to come to the polling booth,” added Joseph.

Ubaidullah said the officials of the Philippines have more or less been able to complete the formalities and all their nationals in Qatar will now be able to exercise their franchise in the general elections that are to take place next year.

Joseph reiterated the state government is of the view that online voting is feasible and they will take this issue again with all concerned.

He expressed the hope that the Kerala diaspora will be able to exercise its franchise in the assembly polls to be held next year.

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