They may be living abroad seven seas across but Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) but they never ignore the elections back home. They support parties of their interest both financially and by campaigning.
In the last two elections in Punjab, including 2014 Lok Sabha and 2017 Assembly elections, NRIs have been involved on a large scale. Among the parties that they have shown a lot of interest in is AAP. Several NRIs came here voluntarily just to campaign in favour of the party. This time too, they have plans to come here in the thick of election season. But AAP now has competition in the form of the newly-formed Punjab Democratic Alliance (PDA), an alliance of four groups.
“We want a strong and new Punjab which cannot be possible under the rule of tired Congress and SAD-BJP, which have been ruling the state turn-wise. In the last election, we had high hopes from AAP and campaigned for about two months to support it but its Delhi leadership cheated Punjabi leaders,” said Canada-based Kulbir Singh Sandhu, adding that he is coming to Punjab this time too, but to support PDA.
Sandhu, 50, is a truck driver in Toronto, and had campaigned for about two months as an NRI volunteer of AAP in Hoshiarpur district during 2017 Assembly poll.
“Tackling the drug menace and ensuring a better future for the state is what bringing me from Toronto to Punjab,” he said.
“We as Punjabis feel ashamed when Punjab’s name gets associated with drugs despite its stellar contribution to the freedom struggle, the Indian Army and its role in ushering in the Green Revolution. I want that no debt-ridden farmer should die here, religion must be respected and we should have good education and health facilities for the poor,” he added.
Suridner Mavi, who was AAP’s Toronto convenor and had managed to bring large number of NRIs from Canada to Punjab to campaign for AAP in 2017, said that this time, most of the NRIs are coming to support Punjab Ekta Party led by Sukhpal Singh Khaira.
“NRIs had chosen AAP last time but party could not live up to the expectations owing to factional feud and already several NRIs in Canada, USA, UK, Spain ,Germany, Italy etc. have severed their relations with AAP due to the selfish attitude of its leaders in Delhi,” said another NRI, S S Khurana, who has extensively campaigned as volunteer in 2014 and 2017 in Punjab and Chandigarh.
Meanwhile around 60 lakh NRIs from Punjab are settled across the globe but there are only 393 NRI votes in Punjab as most of them believe in helping in canvassing and financial aid, not voting.