Kerala diaspora likely to get voting rights

Thiruvananthapuram: Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday informed the Kerala Assembly that his government will initiate discussions on how best the Kerala diaspora could participate in the upcoming local bodies elections.

Vijayan said this after the Deputy Leader of Opposition M.K. Muneer asserted that it’s high time that the Kerala diaspora, who has been the backbone of the Kerala economy for several decades, should get their right to exercise their franchise.

Munner said: “The situation today on diaspora voting rights has been cleared by the Lok Sabha and even the judiciary. Today in Canada and the US, their diaspora have the privilege of taking part in elections, even while they are out of the country.

“So I request the Kerala government to see how best we can allow our diaspora to take part in elections, when the local bodies polls take place next year. We can look into options like proxy or even postal votes for them,” said Muneer.

According to the latest figures, there are 2.1 million migrants from Kerala across the world, of which a good majority will be able to exercise their franchise if given opportunity.

Vijayan said: “For this to become a reality, several things have to fall in place, as it requires coordination with various departments… With favourable responses from appropriate bodies, we will definitely begin discussions on this with the various stake holders on how to go about it.”