KOCHI: After special voter-registration drives and hectic campaigns in West Asia, the expatriate outfits are now busy flying down Non-Resident Keralites (NRKs) to cast their votes on May 16.
The Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre (KMCC), a feeder organisation of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), is in the forefront of this endeavour. It has arranged a chartered flight for the NRK voters to go home and exercise their franchise. One such flight, carrying around 150 voters, will land at Calicut International Airport on Saturday.
The move assumes significance as Malappuram, a strong bastion of IUML, is witnessing neck-to-neck race and the party is leaving no stone unturned to woo NRK voters.
In Tirur, Thanur, Mankada and Ernad constituencies, the IUML is facing tough competition while at Thavanur they are expecting to win against K T Jaleel, who parted ways with the party in 2006.
“We have arranged tickets for NRK voters on various flights at affordable rates after holding discussions with the Air India authorities,” said Anwar Naha, the KMCC Dubai chapter president. Naha said the voters have already started leaving for the state in small batches comprising 40-50 members. “The group arriving on Saturday is the fourth batch,” he said.
Naha said KMCC has arranged flights according to the availability of leave for the voters. Besides UAE, batches of NRKs are coming from Qatar, Oman and Kuwait.
However, KMCC could not give the precise number of voters arriving from these countries. Naha said the uncertain economic scenario in the Gulf regions has affected the travel plans of many NRKs. But Naha said KMCC was expecting more than 2,000 voters to avail the facility.
The KMCC had made similar arrangement for voters during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
The first such venture by KMCC was in 2011 after the government allowed voting rights to NRIs through an amendment to the Representation of the People Act, 2010. P T Kunju Mohammed, president of the Kerala Pravasi Sangham, a pro-left organisation, said they have no such plans to fly down voters.