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Away but invested, Gujarati diaspora weighs in ahead of LS polls

Updated: May 4th, 2024

They’re scattered around the globe, making up every third Indian abroad, but they’ve got a finger on the pulse of the state back home. With 900 members of the Gujarati diaspora set to vote in the third phase of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections, Gujarat Samachar Digital spoke to a few youngsters to get a feel of what’s going through their mind. 

Komal Parmar (32), who moved to the UK in 2021, pulls no punches. “The people I meet here from other Indian states communicate well, and have clearly received a better education than we did in Gujarat. While other states are keyed into building better futures, Gujarati politicians still focus on religion instead of development,” she says.

Rushabh (36) has held onto his Indian passport despite living In Ireland since 2019. He expressed concerns over caste politics back home, which he sees as being “at an "all-time high”.  He says,  “People should vote based not on caste politics but on a candidate’s capacity to bring development to their constituency. The questions should be, ‘Will this candidate be available when his or her constituents are in need? Will they raise the issues affecting the common people in parliament? Candidates who are present only around elections should be shown the door.”

Jaideep Parmar, 22, who shifted to Germany last month to study computer engineering, disagrees. “In the last two decades, Gujarat has developed very well under the Bharatiya Janata Party,” he said. However, his appreciation is tempered. “While the BJP is overall the better option, the country could still do better. India’s development is being held back to a certain degree due to corruption and many other reasons. As the ruling party, the BJP should take appropriate measures to ensure India's development.”

Meanwhile, Kuldipsinh Jadeja, 36 and living in Canada, is still a steadfast BJP fan. “The Congress party will drown in the son's (Rahul Gandhi’s) ambition,” he predicts, ending with, “Monarchy was much better than democracy.” 

Back in 2014, Jadeja—who then lived in Anand—had said that the party used his poem as the lyrics to its campaign song without giving him due credit. 

Vijay Patel, in Kampala, is even more gung-ho on Modi’s chances, sharing that 7,000-8.000 Gujaratis in the Ugandan capital recently participated in a religious ceremony to ensure a win for PM Narendra Modi. “Not just me, everyone I know supports Modi because he has strengthened the Indian passport. Even the local vegetable vendors in Kampala refer to us as ‘Modi’s guys!’” he said, enthusiastically.

The districts of Anand, Mehsana and Kheda, account for the largest chunk of NRIs. However, data from the state’s chief electoral officer shows that the Lok Sabha constituencies of Vadodara, Gandhinagar, and Kheda have registered the highest number of overseas voters, at 245, 141, and 92, respectively. Patan (0), Surendranagar (1) and Banaskantha (2) have the least. 

With Gujarat voting in a matter of days, it remains to be seen what effect this small but vocal group of voters will have on the results. 

Gujarat has a total 900 NRI voters, according to the list published by the state’s chief electoral officer.  The Lok Sabha constituencies of Vadodara, Gandhinagar, and Kheda (92)  districts have the most registered overseas electors, at 245, 141, and 92, respectively, while Patan (0), Surendranagar (1) and Banaskantha (2) have the least. 

Prakash Patel, from Australia’s Gold Coast town told Gujarat Samachar Digital that I am very happy that the transparency of the government administration has improved in the last some years. The corruption is not completely wiped out from the system but there is a change in that you don't need to pay at every place. Transparency in the public dealing works is good for a person like us all living abroad and their properties are still in India.

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