Kochi: The Oommen Chandy government at its weekly cabinet meeting here yesterday decided to allow the nearly two million non-resident Keralites (NRKs) the right to vote in the local body elections, a Kerala minister said.
Addressing reporters here, state Minister in charge of the Diaspora K C Joseph said the cabinet decided to enact a new provision in the Kerala Panchayati Raj and Kerala Municipalities Act, which would enable the diaspora to vote in local body elections.
“Just as the NRIs got their names included in the voters’ lists by making amendments in the Representation of People Act, 1950, giving them rights to vote in assembly and Lok Sabha elections, we decided to include a new section in the Kerala Panchayati Raj and the Kerala Municipalities Act, which will enable our diaspora to cast votes whenever there is a local body poll,” Joseph said.
The enactment of the new provision is expected to be made during the forthcoming assembly session that begins on December 10.
“This demand from the Kerala diaspora has been a long-standing one; never before were their names included in the voters’ lists, so there is no record of these people. With this move, these people will now find their names in voters’ lists,” Joseph said.
The local bodies’ elections, held once in five years, are next scheduled for 2015.
In the April 2011 state assembly polls, all NRKs whose names figured in the electoral list and who were present in the state during the elections were allowed to cast their votes for the first time.