Uttar Pradesh’s prisons minister Balwant Singh Ramoowalia Saturday said he has formed units of “UP NRI Sabha” in the United States and Canada, and will constitute similar outfits of non-resident Indians in other countries to unite such residents from the Sikh community with the Samajwadi Party for the next year’s Assembly elections.
Ramoowalia claimed he will “bring” these Sikh NRIs to their native state to campaign for the ruling party while the NRIs will be “creating a momentum” of their own through social media.
The only Sikh minister in the Akhilesh Cabinet, Ramoowalia, speaking to reporters at his residence here, said he had worked among the NRIs for the past 30 years and believes that he would be able to connect the community with the ruling party here.
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He offered his Lucknow residence to function as an office to coordinate with the NRIs who hail from UP and other states such as Punjab, Haryana and New Delhi.
Claiming that there are at least 70 Assembly seats in UP where the population of Sikhs plays a “crucial role”, he set the target of winning “at least 55 of these 70 seats” for the SP.
Referring to the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) win on four Lok Sabha seats in Punjab in the 2014 polls, Ramoowalia claimed it was due to the NRIs’ support offered to the Arvind Kejriwal’s party. “They (NRIs) can influence the locals who are connected to them or those who are financially dependent on them,” he said.
He, however, said his party’s focus will not rest solely on Sikh NRIs but others who migrated from UP and are based in countries such as Mauritius, Kenya, Jamaica and Fiji will also be approached. Ramoowalia said the issues affecting the NRIs, especially the prevalence of red tape at the embassies, will be taken up by the Samajwadi Party and its MPs in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha.