India Polls: Overseas Indians travel home to support Modi

NEW DELHI  - Adapa V. Prasad, a 60-year-old entrepreneur from Washington DC, has been risking Maoist violence in central India for the sake of the man he wants to see become the next prime minister, Narendra Modi.

Travelling door-to-door in tribal areas of Chhattisgarh state, a hotbed of left-wing extremism, he has been asking people to vote for the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

"India is going down the drain under the present Congress government. I cannot see that happen," said Prasad, an American of Indian origin who left his homeland 25 years ago and has spent about $2,000 to travel back for polling.

Echoing others who are fired up by Modi's strident nationalism and development agenda, he sees the controversial 63-year-old as a means to create pride in the poverty-wracked country.

"The impetus to come here (India) is to bring Modi as the prime minister. We don't want our country to be seen as a weak country," said Prasad, who spent his younger days in Chhattisgarh but has never campaigned there before.

He serves as a vice-president with the international network of the Hindu nationalist party, Overseas Friends of BJP (OFBJP) in the United States.

A Delhi-based BJP leader coordinating international outreach efforts estimated that more than 4,000 non-resident Indians from over 30 countries have travelled to India to work for the party since January.

"I received calls from many young people living abroad," said Vijay Jolly, global convenor for BJP's overseas affairs.

"I have not seen such a phenomenon before," said Jolly, a former legislator who has been with the party for more than three decades.

He explained that despite living abroad, overseas Indians yearned for progress in their motherland after allegations of corruption and weak leadership marred Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's two terms in office.

The high-octane social media campaign of the BJP coupled with regular online interactions with its overseas members and the charisma of Modi has drawn these supporters to India, Jolly said.

As well as organising events locally in their home countries, returning BJP supporters have helped with a formidable grassroots campaign by the party, which can also count on right-wing Hindu groups to provide volunteers.

By contrast, at the headquarters of the Congress party in New Delhi, members were reluctant to share any details of help from the diaspora.

Emails to different chapters of the party's international arm, Indian National Overseas Congress (INOC), yielded just one response.

"Unfortunately the person appointed by AICC (All India Congress Committee) to head INOC has totally failed in organising support for the party in US at this critical election," read the email from an anonymous party member.

"We are all disappointed! This is the problem with our party leaders and they are out of touch with the grassroots!" it added.

'No hope here'

Following legislation passed in 2010, Indian passport-holders who are living abroad are able to vote as long they sign up and register.

However, they have to return home to cast their ballot and only 13,000 have registered among some 10 million non-resident Indians - a tiny percentage of the overall total of 814 million voters.

The staggered election, which began on April 7, will finish with results on May 16 with the BJP forecast to emerge as the biggest party in parliament.

The party, which was born in 1980, has run the federal government only once, between 1998 and 2004, unlike Congress, which has ruled the country for more than five decades since India's independence from Britain in 1947.

Sanjay Srivastava, who left India eight years ago to work as a manager with a telecom company in Nigeria, sees Modi as a harbinger of change.

He cast his ballot in his hometown of Ranchi, capital of mineral-rich eastern Jharkhand state, which has among the worst human development indicators in India.

"I feel there is no hope here. There is no development here," said 37-year-old Srivastava.

But he is confident that Modi, chief minister of the thriving western state of Gujarat since 2001, could transform his home state.

"Jharkhand has poor amenities, bad roads, poor electricity. The success model of Gujarat should be replicated here," he said.

Purchase this article for republication.

VIDEOS YOU SHOULD WATCH

  • #Joeyjios: We try bubble tea mala hotpot and bubble tea toast

    Full story: http://www.asiaone.com/food/we-try-bubble-tea-mala-hotpot-and-bubble-tea-toast-guess-which-ones-got-us-hooked Mala and bubble milk tea within the same hotpot? What about bubble tea on toast? Who even comes up with these ideas?! This week on #Joeyjios, we give these dubious food creations a taste-test to see if they're worth your time, money and calories. #bubbletea #bbt #boba --- Read more: http://www.asiaone.com/ FOLLOW us on - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/asiaonecom - Twitter: https://twitter.com/asiaonecom - Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/asiaonecom/ EMAIL: For story leads, business enquiries, contact asiaone@mm2entertainment.com
  • Thirstdays: Where we talk weird dates and wild fantasies

    Full story: https://www.asiaone.com/entertainment/thirstdays-where-we-talk-weird-dates-and-wild-fantasies Ooo, it's been a hot week and the thirst is real at AsiaOne. Join Le En and Bryan as they chat about weird dates, constant 'cravings', and Beyonce's thigh gap! And they are quenching that thirst with a cup of root beer float to celebrate the return of a certain fast food restaurant. Thirstdays is a fortnightly AsiaOne #entertainment series where our hosts Le En and Bryan give you a peek into their personal lives while they satisfy their thirst over a drink, have a no-holds-barred chat, and do fun things. #gossip #confessions #realness --- Read more: http://www.asiaone.com/ FOLLOW us on - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/asiaonecom - Twitter: https://twitter.com/asiaonecom - Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/asiaonecom/ EMAIL: For story leads, business enquiries, contact asiaone@mm2entertainment.com
  • Don't Say Cannot Ep4: He beats people up, but for the country

    Full story: http://www.asiaone.com/singapore/dont-say-cannot-delinquent-national-wrestler He used to beat people up, simply because he had "too much energy" to expend. Now, he still beats people up - but for the country. Meet 24-year-old #Singapore national wrestler Toh Xin Ran. Seeing the number of medals that he has been awarded and the respectful manner in which he now interacts with his wrestling coach, it is hard to imagine that Xin Ran used to be a troubled kid in his younger days. #wrestling #sportsman --- Read more: http://www.asiaone.com/ FOLLOW us on - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/asiaonecom - Twitter: https://twitter.com/asiaonecom - Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/asiaonecom/ EMAIL: For story leads, business enquiries, contact asiaone@mm2entertainment.com
  • #Joeyjios: Taste-testing The Alley Luxe and CHICHA San Chen

    Full story: https://www.asiaone.com/food/alley-luxe-and-chicha-san-chen-opens-week-heres-what-try A Michelin-standard bubble tea for $4.70? A drink that looks like the Northern Lights? This week, #Joeyjios her colleague Le En to check out two new bubble tea (BBT) stores that are opening along Orchard Road. Which will they prefer? Watch to find out. #Thedeerishere #TheAlley #Chichasanchen #Boba --- Read more: http://www.asiaone.com/ FOLLOW us on - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/asiaonecom - Twitter: https://twitter.com/asiaonecom - Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/asiaonecom/ EMAIL: For story leads, business enquiries, contact asiaone@mm2entertainment.com
  • Office Tea Episode 5: Bosses and Things

    It’s been a few weeks - let’s find out if the higher-ups of AsiaOne have any regrets about hiring Le En. Efforts were made to make nice, charity is involved and work is never-ending still. Follow and subscribe so you won't miss a single episode of our new series, Office Tea! To catch more of her antics, follow her @goofy_feline! --- Read more: http://www.asiaone.com/ FOLLOW us on - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/asiaonecom - Twitter: https://twitter.com/asiaonecom - Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/asiaonecom/ EMAIL: For story leads, business enquiries, contact asiaone@mm2entertainment.com
  • #Joeyjios: DIY your way into mum's heart this Mother's Day

    Full story: https://www.asiaone.com/women/joeyjios-diy-your-way-mums-heart-mothers-day Mother’s Day is this Sunday! Have you gotten mum a gift yet? This week on #Joeyjios, Joey tries her hand at DIY projects that’s thoughtful, useful and inexpensive. #Mothersday #DIY --- Read more: http://www.asiaone.com/ FOLLOW us on - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/asiaonecom - Twitter: https://twitter.com/asiaonecom - Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/asiaonecom/ EMAIL: For story leads, business enquiries, contact asiaone@mm2entertainment.com
  • Don't Say Cannot Ep3: He 'sees' the world with the help of tech

    Full story: https://www.asiaone.com/singapore/dont-say-cannot-he-may-be-blind-he-can-text-faster-you Edwin Khoo, 43, surprises friends with the speed at which he types on his phone. The reason? He's been blind since birth. But #technology has been the game-changer for Edwin in navigating the world around him despite his #disability, allowing him to #travel and even host his own online #podcast. --- Read more: http://www.asiaone.com/ FOLLOW us on - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/asiaonecom - Twitter: https://twitter.com/asiaonecom - Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/asiaonecom/ EMAIL: For story leads, business enquiries, contact asiaone@mm2entertainment.com
  • Office Tea Episode 4: The Dress Code

    It’s in the employee handbook - but does ANYONE actually read and follow the dress code? Are calves too scandalous? Le En puts on Athleisure and tries to get away with it! Follow and subscribe so you won't miss a single episode of our new series, Office Tea! To catch more of her antics, follow her @goofy_feline! --- Read more: http://www.asiaone.com/ FOLLOW us on - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/asiaonecom - Twitter: https://twitter.com/asiaonecom - Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/asiaonecom/ EMAIL: For story leads, business enquiries, contact asiaone@mm2entertainment.com
  • Caryn Cheng finds the best deals at IMM's Greater Savings Home and Furnishing Sale

    Full story: https://www.asiaone.com/singapore/5-couples-share-most-expensive-items-they-have-ever-bought-their-home AsiaOne challenges Caryn Cheng to find the best deals at the upcoming #IMM Greater Savings Home and Furnishing #Sale. IMM's Greater Savings Home & Furnishing Sale will start May 13 to 19. With 20 per cent off storewide at Best Denki and discounts of up to 50 per cent at stores such as INKAGU Outlet by Picket & Rail, Linen Gallery Outlet and Red Apple from May 17 to 19, this epic sale is not to be missed. Address: 2 Jurong East Street 21, Singapore 609601 Opening hours: 10am to 10pm #brandedcontent --- Read more: http://www.asiaone.com/ FOLLOW us on - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/asiaonecom - Twitter: https://twitter.com/asiaonecom - Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/asiaonecom/ EMAIL: For story leads, business enquiries, contact asiaone@mm2entertainment.com
  • #Joeyjios: I try a ballet-inspired workout despite my two left feet

    Full story: https://www.asiaone.com/singapore/joeyjios-i-try-ballet-inspired-workout-despite-my-two-left-feet Tendu, Arabesque and Grand Pliés? This week on #Joeyjios, I found out that these are in fact, not edible food dishes, but dance moves in ballet.  Watch as former professional ballerinas and co-founders of #BalletBody, Lisha Chin and Alison Carroll, take me through a snippet of their hour-long ballet-inspired workout while I try my best to keep up.  #Ballet #Barre #Fitness --- Read more: http://www.asiaone.com/ FOLLOW us on - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/asiaonecom - Twitter: https://twitter.com/asiaonecom - Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/asiaonecom/ EMAIL: For story leads, business enquiries, contact asiaone@mm2entertainment.com

SERVICES