In a first, NRI labourers play vital role in Sabha elections

Indicating a shift, NRI labourers from the Middle-East dominated queues for the first time during voting for the Punjab NRI Sabha president in Jalandhar on Sunday.

In previous elections, mostly NRIs settled in the US, UK, Canada and other European countries or their nominees used to cast their votes. This time, a large number of NRI labourers had come to India to caste their votes. Sources said a candidate for the post of president had not only helped them to become the member of the Sabha but also sponsored their trip to India.

Arguing that these labourers must not be considered as NRIs as they go to Middle-East just for a few years on work permit and hardly live there permanently, Some NRIs from UK and North American countries objected when such labourers came to vote. The polling authorities, however, claimed that the labourers are the members of the Sabha and thus, cannot be stopped from voting.

Sunday's election was also the first time in the 15-year history of the Sabha, when NRIs had to be physically present to cast votes. The right of their nominees to participate in the process was abolished in a constitutional amendment on October 28, 2012.

Jasbir S Gill new Sabha president

Jalandhar: Jasvir Singh Gill was declared as the NRI Sabha president in Jalandhar on Sunday evening. He defeated two-time incumbent president Kamaljit Singh Hayre and former president Pritam Singh Naurangpur. Of the total 18,735 voters, 1,624 votes were cast. While Gill received 657 votes, Hayer and Naurangpur polled 460 and 452 votes respectively. Before the elections, NRI Affairs Minister Bikram Singh Majithia had tried to execute a compromise between the candidates but was unsuccessful. While MLA Bholath and former minister Bibi Jagir Kaur was supporting Naurangpur, Gill was being supported by SAD MLA from Nakodar, Gurpartap Singh Wadala. Likewise, two chief parliamentary secretaries came out in support of Hayre. ENS

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