Lok Sabha elections 2024: UAE residents spend Dh1,500 on India flights to count votes, wait for results

Millions of Indians voted in the world's largest elections, held in seven phases

by

Nasreen Abdulla

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Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

Published: Wed 5 Jun 2024, 2:02 PM

Last updated: Wed 5 Jun 2024, 11:04 PM

For Indian expat VP Rashid, the thought of sitting in Dubai at his workplace while the counting of election votes was underway was almost unbearable. “How can you just go about your day when you know the future of your country is being decided?” he asked, speaking to Khaleej Times from India. “Moreover, my cousin was getting married. So I thought I would attend his wedding as well.”

The Dubai resident took the last minute decision to book a flight to go home. “The wedding was on June 1 at 4pm,” he said. “I checked the tickets on May 31. The rates were extremely high and there were no tickets. But luckily, I managed to snag one from Abu Dhabi that would help me reach home in time for the wedding and then stay on to watch the election results. So I immediately booked it and raced to pack to my bags and get to Abu Dhabi on time.”


VP Rashid. Photo: Supplied
VP Rashid. Photo: Supplied

Rashid is one of several Indian expats who travelled back to India in time for the vote counting of the world’s largest elections. In the nationwide polls that were held in seven phases, millions of Indians voted to elect 543 members to the Lok Sabha – the lower house of the Indian parliament.

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Election results late Tuesday showed a victory for the BJP-led alliance, albeit with a reduced majority. Both the BJP-led alliance, and the Congress-led opposition are set to hold meetings to strategize on forming the government.

“I didn’t tell anyone that I was going, including my wife and my mother, because I know they would try to stop me,” he chuckled. “I had just spent 20 days in India helping with campaigning and then voting before coming back to Dubai in April. Although I told everyone that I had come for the wedding, my mother keeps teasing me that it was just an excuse for me to go home on election results day.”

Rashid watched the counting live with his friends. “The mood was electric,” he said. “We got together at a public place. Huge TVs were put up and a lot of people from the area came there to watch the votes being counted live. Sweets were distributed and big pots of biryani was served for lunch. The vibe was worth all the efforts I took to come home.”

Rashid with friends. Photo: Supplied
Rashid with friends. Photo: Supplied

Another person who partook in the fervour was Ashraf Paleri. A keen political enthusiast, Ashraf knew that he wanted to be in India when the votes were being counted. “I come from a family that has had a long political history and for us being part of the community during an election is very important,” he said. “I booked my tickets on the day the election dates were announced. One to travel to India to vote and the other to be here when the votes were being counted. This trip cost me approximately Dh1500.”

Ashraf Paleri. Photo: Supplied
Ashraf Paleri. Photo: Supplied

The entrepreneur arrived in his home town in Kerala earlier this week and participated in every way he could. “I am an office bearer of a political party so I applied to be part of the vote counting committee,” he said. “I was helping with the vote counting. It was extremely special to me because the candidate I was supporting won by a big margin. Outside I could hear drums and celebrations. It was an amazing vibe to be there.”

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