Rest of Asia

India elections: Expats in UAE share their voting experience

Dhanusha Gokulan (Principal Correspondent)/Dubai Filed on April 6, 2021 | Last updated on April 7, 2021 at 06.42 am
Voters stand in a queue to cast their vote outside a polling station in Tamil Nadu. Photo: AFP

Some expats voted for the first time during extended holidays.

Indian expatriates from the UAE who travelled to vote in the Indian Assembly elections told Khaleej Times the experience was good.

While several expatriates travelled to India to cast their votes, some of them, who were in India on extended holidays, have been able to vote for the first time.

Polling is underway in four states and one union territory – West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.

While in West Bengal, the day marks the third in an eight-phase election, in Assam, it is the third and final phase of voting. The remaining states/UT –Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry are witnessing single-phase polling. Kerala went to the polls on April 6. Counting for all the polls will be held on May 2.

Polling in West Bengal and Assam commenced from March 27. The last phase of West Bengal polls will take place on April 29.

Expats react:

Deepa Anil, a Keralite resident of Dubai and founder president of Incas women’s wing cast her vote on Tuesday, April 6, in Attingal, Thiruvananthapuram. Speaking from Kerala, she said, “The morning was pretty crowded, but now it is very hot here. People refrained from coming to the polling booths due to the heat.”

Anil who also an active volunteer for the UDF party has been in Kerala for the last two months. “People were observing social distancing regulations while waiting to cast their votes. They were provided with hand sanitisers and gloves as well,” she added.

Anwar Naha, the UAE Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre (KMCC) general secretary cast his vote in Tirurangadi in Malappuram district. Naha arrived in Kerala on March 23 on the first UAE-KMCC voter’s flight. Two such flights carrying interested voters flew from the UAE to India weeks ahead of the elections.

“A lot of NRIs are already here in Kerala due to the Covid-19 situation. At least 400,000-500,000 NRIs had returned during the lockdown. We are expecting this will sway the final election results considerably,” said Naha. “During the last hour, those in quarantine were also invited to vote. In my ward, votes of at least six people over the age of 80 were collected from their homes,” Naha said.

First-time voter Zeba Syed, a Dubai resident who cast her vote from Thalasherry in Kannur district said, “Due to Covid-19, my family and I ended up being in Kerala for a long time. Many of us are first-time voters. I got my election ID only a month ago. It felt great to exercise our right to vote,” she added.

Less voters from UAE

However, Dr Puthur Rahman, president of the UAE Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre National Committee said the number of interested voters who travelled to India this year is much lesser in comparison to previous years. “We had about 500 people who travelled from Dubai to Calicut to cast their votes this year. During the last elections, at least 1000 expatriates had travelled only to cast their votes.”

Rahman said the numbers may have been low due to the ongoing quarantine regulations and the strict travel process that is being followed in India currently. “Also, many people are still waiting for the second dose of their vaccine. I couldn’t travel for that reason. My next dose is due in a few days, and my doctor recommended I don’t travel,” said Rahman.


Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for over ten years. For Khaleej Times, she covers NRI affairs, civil aviation, and immigration issues among other things. She completed her BA in Journalism, Economics and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008 and is currently pursuing her MA in Leadership and Innovation in Contemporary Media at the American University in Dubai. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves food, and is mom to an over-enthusiastic Labrador retriever. Tweet at her @shootsprintrite.

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