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Australia is home to 592,000 Indians and there’s no surprise that a sizable chunk of the population is eager to exert influence on their homeland’s political landscape despite sitting miles away.
And now armed with the right to vote ‘privilege’, political enthusiasts living abroad have actively made their presence felt through rallies, fundraising and social media campaigns to mobilise support for their favourite party and leader.
More prominent have been those who are affiliated to bodies like the Overseas Friends of Bharatiya Janata Party (OFBJP), the Indian Overseas Congress (IOC), and the supporters of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Australia.
Jay Shah, president of OFBJP told SBS Punjabi that they have carried out ‘aggressive’ campaigning to garner support for Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party.
“We have taken out three car rallies, distributed over a thousand car stickers, held 40 meetings and made over 10,000 cold calls to garner support for Narendra Modi,” said Mr Shah.
“At least a hundred people from Australia have travelled to India to campaign for Modi. He has unparalleled support from NRIs,” he added.
Meanwhile, raising the anti-Modi flag is Manoj Sheoran, the president of IOC who claims they too have been doing their bit for the Congress party over the last two years.
“We have carried out several rallies, conducted community-focused events in the presence of senior Congress leaders to raise awareness of the false promises made by the incumbent BJP government and to gather support for Rahul Gandhi,” Mr Sheoran told SBS Punjabi.
Also at hand are AAP supporters and other regional party supporters who have shown a relatively smaller presence compared to the BJP and Congress supporters, but they are not insignificant.
“I'm neither in support nor particularly against any political party,” claims Bhavjit Singh, a political enthusiast who was once an active AAP supporter.
Speaking to SBS Punjabi, Mr Singh stopped short of saying that he now feels dissuaded with AAP.
“They had a clear shot in the last elections, but now I’m not quite sure if they’d even be able to make their presence felt in Punjab, where they had a stronghold until the last general elections,” added Mr Singh.
But not all Indians living in Australia are interested in what is brewing in the political pot, argues businessman Karan Gandhok who feels Indians living in Australia should rather concentrate on what is happening in their backyards.
“We are non-citizens of India. We wanted the permanent residency and Australian passport. Now we have voting right in this country so we should get involved at the grassroots level here rather than focusing on who will come to power in India,” said Mr Gandhok.
Holding similar views is realtor Ramandeep Singh Deo who claims he is an ‘informed’ citizen of Australia and is ‘disinterested’ in what is happening in India.
“I do understand that we have roots in India, some of us have parents and extended families there. But can we please not step into two boats? Now we live here so let’s just spend our time, energy and resources towards making Australia better,” said Mr Deo.
Will it be Narendra Modi again, or will Rahul Gandhi wrest power from him this time around? And what are India’s top election issues according to Australian-Punjabis? Australia’s Punjabi community weighs in on these issues and more.