Ms. Poonam Mahajan, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Member of Parliament (MP) from the Mumbai North Central constituency, is bringing a private member bill, which if passed, will see eight nominated seats for NRIs in the Lok Sabha. The Mumbai MP is seeking for a Constitutional amendment to connect with the People's Representation Act.
“It is the centenary year of Mahatma Gandhi’s return to India from South Africa, I feel, there would be no better opportunity to mark the contributions of our overseas community than to allow representation to them in the Lok Sabha”, said the Mumbai MP.
The eight nominated seats for NRIs represent eight regions such as North America, South America, Gulf, etc. The Indian Diaspora in various countries abroad plays a large role in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s diplomatic outreach. Importantly, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been to several countries in the last one-and-a-half years, since his election, especially to connect with the Diaspora.
Recently, the Indian central government has assured the Indian Supreme Court, that it will abide in letter and spirit the directive to allow the NRIs, their right to vote through postal ballots.
The Mumbai MP also cites the Constitutional provision for providing representation for the Anglo-Indian community through a nomination by the President of India as a means to do this. Interestingly, the Indian parliament has two members of the Anglo-Indian community in the Lok Sabha nominated by the President of India.
The European nations, France has such a clause in which natives not living in the country, can still be selected as the elected representative. It allows its NRIs 12 seats in the Senate. Italy also provides its non-resident citizens 12 seats in the House of Representatives and 6 in the Senate.
However, the Private member’s Bills reflect individual interests of the members and are rarely cleared by the Indian Parliament.
Ms. Poonam Mahajan is the daughter of the slain BJP leader Mr. Pramod Mahajan, who was also a previous central minister and a popular politician.