Government proposes to give voting right to NRIs

Govt had recommended the options of e-postal ballot system and proxy voting

New Delhi: The government on Tuesday agreed to convene an all-party meeting to discuss its proposal to give NRIs the right to exercise their franchise by e-postal ballots or through proxy voting.

Law Minister D V Sadananda Gowda accepted the demand of opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha that their views should be taken into consideration while enacting a legislation to grant voting rights to NRIs and domestic migrant labour.

Replying to a calling attention motion moved by Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, the Law Minister made it clear that the government was acting on the Election Commission report regarding voting rights of over one crore NRIs and not as directed by the Supreme Court.

During the debate, Opposition members charged the government with taking up the matter against the backdrop of the Supreme Court's directions, with Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad saying they were not opposed to voting rights for NRIs but the way the Government has moved the proposal without discussing it with the political parties.

The Minister said the report had recommended the options of the e-postal ballot system and proxy voting and the government had submitted before the Supreme Court accepting the recommendations.

To ensure that secrecy and methodology is maintained, Gowda said "e-postal and postal ballot voting methodologies are being worked out for the voting rights of the NRIs".

However, he agreed for an all-party meeting as demanded by several opposition parties like AIADMK, DMK, BJD, CPI, SP and JD-U.

On the crucial issue of voting rights for domestic migrant labours, he said the Election Commission would convene a meeting of the political parties to gather their views on this issue also.

"I (will) request Election Commission to hold all party meeting to get their feedback," he said while adding that it was necessary for legislation on voting rights for migrant voters travelling across the country in search of work.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said there was a broad consensus at an all-party meeting called by Election Commission on the issue of voting rights for NRIs and the government would work in this direction.

( Source : PTI )
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