With the electioneering heat soaring, the non-resident Keralites (NRK) in the Gulf countries are packing their bags to travel to home state to cast their votes in the Lok Sabha elections on April 23. They are coming to Kerala individually and as a group by catching special flights to choose their candidates in the forthcoming polls.
Many people have reached Kerala in the past few weeks and more would be flowing into the state from West Asia in the coming days. The feeder organizations of various political parties and other associations have started booking air tickets for these voters.
Special aircraft will be carrying voters from Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah in the UAE, and Riyadh, Damam and Jiddah in Saudi Arabia to Kerala in the coming days. Various associations in Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait are also trying to make sure that NRKs vote in the coming elections.
The families of ‘NRK voters’ are very happy that their dear and near ones are coming to Kerala during the festive seasons of Vishu and Ramzan. This time around, the number of people coming on leave from Gulf countries has also increased.
Air fares will dip
The air fares are bound to decrease as the NRKs are booking the entire tickets of a flight, and the NRK associations have reached an understanding with national carrier Air India to make available the aircraft. Efforts are on to facilitate the travel of NRKs to Kerala by blocking all tickets of a flight or by chartering aircraft. The special flights with voters from Dubai will be touching Kerala shores on April 15, 19 and 20.
The Rahul Gandhi effect
The announcement of Rahul Gandhi’s candidacy from Wayanad gave an impetus to the ‘Voteplane’, said E P Ubaidullah, president of Global KMCC (Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre) in Vandoor. There was a renewed interest among NRKs to exercise their franchise, and the KMCC and OICC (Overseas Indian Cultural Centre) were working towards transporting more NRKs from Gulf countries to Kerala, he added.
Many extending their leaves
Those who are already in Kerala on leave are in the process of extending their stay to cast their votes in the parliamentary polls. Kodinhi-native Siddique, who came to Kerala on leave from Saudi Arabia, is extending his leave so as to vote in the elections. He was supposed to leave for Saudi Arabia on the election day, April 23, at 8.30 am. As Siddique was sure that he won’t be able to exercise his franchise, he postponed his travel plans to April 25. V Hussain, also is hailing from Kodinhi in Malappuram district, rescheduled his return journey to Kuwait due to the Lok Sabha elections.