Leaders of the Indian expatriate community in the UAE have welcomed Indian Supreme Court's directive to the government to enable NRIs to cast postal and e-ballots in polls in India.
The voting rights for the 2.6 million-strong Indian-expat community, one of the largest expat communities in the UAE, received positive reaction from officials and community workers.
Underlining the importance of the directive, Advocate Hashik T K said that the huge Indian-expat community in UAE can even swing elections in some crucial states.
"When NRIs start voting, the political scenarios, even governments will change in many places, especially in states like Kerala where the difference between the ruling and opposition parties are just a few seats in the assembly," he said.
Anwar Naha, president of Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre - which has been campaigning for NRI voting rights - congratulated the government for showing willingness to implement NRI voting from overseas.
"Now our request is to ensure a consensus among all political parties for the smooth and secure implementation of the e-ballot voting system," he was quoted as saying by the Khaleej Times.
G M Bajpai of GMB Insurance Consultants said, "There are many Indians residing in the Gulf region who still hold Indian passports. Most of us feel the need to exercise our right to vote. It is the only strength that our democracy gives us."
T R Remesh, president of Overseas Friends of Bharatiya Janata Party (OFBJP), welcomed the decision and said that the biggest change the move would bring was that "all Indian expatriates, including the blue-collar workers and middle class people, will get the same importance".
Indian Ambassador to UAE, T P Seetharam said that the mission was awaiting instructions from the government on how to implement the court's directive.
"We hope it will be implemented soon and it will provide an opportunity for all those who wish to vote to participate in the (electoral) process," the Ambassador said.