In the past, Indians living overseas hardly got involved when elections to India's parliament are held. But not this time. Many returned to their homeland just to vote. tabla! spoke to two Indian nationals living in Singapore who flew to India to exercise their vote.
Noted economist and writer Sanjeev Sanyal and IIT Alumni president Vinod Aachi travelled to Delhi and Hyderabad for this purpose.
Mr Aachi took the evening flight to Hyderabad on the eve of the poll and returned the following evening after voting.
"I felt that this election was the most important one in the past 25 years. I was this interested and committed in 1989 when Mr Rajiv Gandhi lost the elections following the Bofors controversy. However, I wasn't of voting age then. This election could set the trajectory for the next 10 years or more, potentially of what kind of a country India will become," said Mr Aachi, who works with Standard Chartered Bank.
Mr Sanyal flew into Delhi, also on the eve of the elections, but he took a few extra days of leave so that he could spend time with his wife Smita who had been in Delhi from the beginning of February working full time on the BJP campaign out of the party's national headquarters in Delhi.
"I met quite a few others on the Singapore Airlines flight who were going back home to vote. I also know several friends who flew back this time from the UK and the Gulf countries for the same reason. Incidentally, the same also happened within India with an unprecedented number of people who live and work away from their home taking the trouble to go back to vote. I know of poor migrant workers who spent two whole days to go to their remote villages in order to participate in the democratic process. It is just incredible," said the economist who voted in Gurgaon, on the outskirts of Delhi.
The actions of the two Singapore-based Indians drew quite a bit of attention. Mr Sanyal said his close friends and immediate family members were not surprised by what he did since he has been flying in to vote in the past few elections but many congratulated him on Facebook and Twitter.
"There are a few people who told me that they decided to fly back home to vote after they heard about me. I am pleased that I was able to encourage a few more people to get up and get engaged," said Mr Sanyal.
Mr Aachi too said that his actions prompted a few others to vote.
"My cousin had it on his Facebook and that got his circle of friends intrigued," said Mr Aachi.
He added that enthusiasm on the ground was quite palpable and there was a huge turnout, which he attributed to the formation of the Telengana state. Many who queued up were first-time voters.
On May 16, when the results are announced, the IIT alumni is organising an election watch from noon to midnight at the Anglo-Indian Cafe & Bar.
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