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BJP, Congress welcome move to give NRIs voting rights


New Delhi : The ruling Congress and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Friday welcomed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s assurances to Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) that his government would try to ensure voting rights for them by the next general elections.

BJP spokesman Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said it was a good idea but its implementation will need a lot of homework.

“This matter also came up when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister. The issue is of dual voting rights. The government will have to find a solution to this,” he said, adding that it would entail constitutional amendments.

Asked if the BJP would support the government on the issue, Naqvi said his party would definitely consider such a proposal. He said the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government had also taken steps to enhance honour of NRIs.

Congress spokesman Manish Tewari also welcomed the government’s intention to give voting rights Indians living abroad. “We welcome what the Prime Minister has said. We hope the government will take steps to implement it,” he said.

Asked about the constitutional steps needed, he said: “The party hopes the government will be able to work its way through it.”

Addressing the eighth Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas here, the prime minister said the government recognised the legitimate desire of Indians living abroad to have a say in who governed India, and hoped that they will get a chance to vote by the time of the next general elections.