Non-Resident Gujaratis (NRG) — keen on participating in the upcoming Lok Sabha election — are heading back home in large numbers to exercise their right and help choose the next government.
Meet 81-year-old Thakore Patel, who has been living in the United States for the past few years. He, along with wife Sarla, has come to Gujarat just to cast their vote. And, he is not the only one. A lot of NRGs are coming back in droves to vote on April 30 — single-phase polling for Gujarat’s 26 Lok Sabha constituencies and decide the fate of 413 candidates.
“If we want to sustain democracy, it is important to vote. Despite my age and money factor, I travelled for more than 12 hours to reach Ahmedabad so that I can have my share in bringing the right people in the government,” said Patel, who calls himself a dedicated Congress voter. He added that his return ticket to the US is booked for May 6.
NRGs from places like the UK, Japan, Singapore, Dubai, Germany among others are also making their way home to exercise their franchise. Many also chose to come to India to campaign for political parties.
Lalubhai Parekh — a retired professional in the United Kingdom — is another person who will be reaching Gujarat a week prior to the voting day. “A lot of people from the UK have already left for Gujarat. Though people here are advising me not to travel, due to my age and summer in India, I have still decided to come,” he said.
The 80-year-old added that he would also help in campaigning, as has been one of the founding members of the Jan Sangh and president of the Overseas Friends of Gujarat in the UK.
Several forums have also been formed to spread awareness about voting among the NRGs. One such forum is Global Indians for Bharatiya Vikas, which recently opened its chapter in Ahmedabad.
“We have appealed the NRGs to come to India and vote. Every single vote will make a difference in bringing change and we are working hard towards it,” said Anjali Pandya, general secretary of the organisation.
Likeminded people and supporter of the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) have formed this group. And special efforts carried out by such organisations may reap benefits for the ruling party in Gujarat as chief minister Narendra Modi aspires to be the next prime minister of the country.