The Gulf expatriates have their own reason to do so. The global economic recession has also hit the Gulf countries hard, particularly the UAE.
A significant number of expatriates have lost their jobs or are in the process of losing them. They see the upcoming parliamentary elections as most important enough. Most of the expatriates feel that electing an efficient and able parliamentarian their problem of joblessness will be effectively handled.
|[Data Courtesy: The Hindu Businessline – August 2005]|
These days one can witness thousands of expatriates from Gulf countries heading back to their home in Kerala to aggressively campaign in the general elections. Most of the expatriates have even gone to the extent of risking their jobs by coming to their home on leave without salaries. They are unsure whether they will continue in their jobs after going back when the poll process is over. It is just three weeks ago that the expatriates began thronging to their homes. By the last days of elections it is expected that the number of expatriates having reached India will cross one lakh. Kerala, being a politically vibrant state, is abuzz with the usual hustle and bustle of electioneering these days. The election frenzy can be seen in the Muslim-dominated district of Malappuram which also has maximum expatriates from Gulf.
The elections will be held in Malappuram in the first phase on April 16. Recently, more than 300 expatriates took part in motorbike rallies and processions. These have become part of regular election campaign activity. Almost all the major political parties such as the Indian National Congress (INC), Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) are taking support of the Gulf expatriates. It may be noted that the Gulf expatriates are working under the banner of cultural organizations like INC-led Indian Cultural Congress (ICC), CPI-led Kerala Pravasi Sangamam (KPS) and IUML-led Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre (KMCC). The Gulf expatriates chip in with their money and organize cultural activities to help these political parties during times of elections. Moreover, other expatriates are also encouraged to become members of these cultural organizations.
According to Ismail, President of KMCC, Riyadh Centre, at least 7,000 members of the KMCC are currently in Malappuram and helping the party in the elections. He says that for the Gulf expatriates taking part in the elections is a matter of pride as well as their responsibility. M.J. Mohamed Iqbal, an expatriate living in Dubai for long, said, “Every expatriate should actively take part in the electoral process. In the present times of global recession this has become all the more important.
A significant number of expatriates have now lost their jobs and are headed for troubled times. If good representatives are not elected to the Indian parliament then the cause of the troubled expatriates will not be effectively handled. We spend money and help these parties in the elections. We hope that the parties and the elected representatives will stand by us in these crucial times.”
According to reports nearly 25,00,000 Keralites have immigrated to several countries to take up lucrative jobs with 90 percent of them being settled in Gulf countries. Around Rs. 200 billion is remitted from Gulf countries to banks in Kerala every year.