Globally placed sizable chunk of Gujaratis apparently have no interest in elections back home, as just five overseas electors have enrolled themselves with Gujarat Election Commission to cast vote in poll-bound state.
"Just five overseas electors are registered with us so far, one from Kutch and four from Navsari district. They can vote on producing passport," Gujarat Chief Election Officer (CEO) Anita Karwal said.
To facilitate participation in the polls, the Election Commission of India (ECI) had introduced the concept of overseas electors, where every Indian citizen staying in a foreign country, holding an Indian passport, can register for voting by filing Form 6A.
After enrolment, the person can cast vote in election in the constituency, if he is present in the polling station along with his original passport on the day of poll.
Gujarat goes to election on December 13 and 17, a time when a lot of overseas Gujaratis visit home.
According to estimates by the centre of Gujarat State Non-Resident Gujarati Foundation (GSNGF), there are close to three crore Indians overseas, of which nearly 60 lakh are Gujaratis spread across 120 countries.
Gujarat's strength overseas can be gauged from the popularity of Madhapar town in Kutch district, which is touted to be wealthiest in southern Asia, from where many residents are working in UK, US and Canada. It is considered as the
barometer of NRI deposits.
Madhapar, with an estimated population of 25,000 people, in Kutch, is one of the wealthiest towns in the state with an average GDP of USD 12,000 per person, sources said.
"To the best of my knowledge, negligible people from overseas have got registered to vote this time. A good facilitation mechanism and campaign is required to draw their
attention," said K H Patel, the head of NRG Centre at Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI).
The NRG Centre is the wing of GSNGF (which comes under the state government's general administration department, NRI division), an arm of Gujarat government, enrolling Gujaratis overseas.
It issues Gujarat card to Gujaratis overseas from the state after charging a fee and offers slew of facilities to them.
On the low enrolment of Gujaratis overseas as voters with EC, BJP media cell convenor Jagdish Bhavsar said, "Only those people cast vote who are interested in democracy."
"There are people who are staying in Gujarat but do not exercise their franchise...then what to talk about those working in foreign countries," he said.
Interestingly, with an eye over elections