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CPM opposes Cabinet's decision to let NRIs vote by proxy, says it will 'distort' poll results

New Delhi:  The CPM on Thursday opposed the Cabinet decision to approve proxy voting for NRIs and sought its withdrawal, saying the move would have serious consequences on free and fair elections and "distort" the results.

"A very wrong precedent is being set... the NRIs can delegate their voting right to the proxy and this will have a serious consequence on free and fair polls," party general secretary Sitaram Yechury told a press conference.

Instead of proxy voting, he said polling booths could be set up at Indian embassies and consulates across the world to enable NRIs to cast their vote.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Giving the example of a large number of non-resident Indians (NRIs) living and working in the Gulf, he said in most cases, they are sent by agents and their passports are confiscated.

"In such conditions, the agents or company owners can easily take over their proxy right to vote... It is a very risky proposition. Intimidation or monetary allurement or even to protect their jobs can affect (proxy voting)," he said, adding that "in such a situation, free and fair polls will be distorted".

The Union Cabinet had on Wednesday cleared a proposal to extend proxy voting to overseas Indians by amending electoral laws.

"We would like the government to reconsider and withdraw this decision," Yechury said, adding it is "the result of active work by the Overseas BJP".

Instead of allowing proxy voting, he said the government could set up polling booths in its embassies and consulates across the world to enable NRIs to vote, as is done by the governments of the US, the UK, France or Australia.

Such a decision would allow the NRIs to exercise their franchise without passing on their voting right to proxies, the CPM leader said.

Taking on the government for "rushing" into implementing the Goods and Services Tax (GST), Yechury said it "suffers from serious anomalies".

He alleged that the informal sector, which contributed 60 percent to the GDP and accounted for three-fourths of the economy, "stands shattered" due to demonetisation.

Lack of demand has been forcing industries to shut down or lower production and "on top of this, we have the impact of GST", he said.

"While the Tirupati laddoo is GST-free, the tax is imposed on the 'langar' (free food) in the Golden Temple in Amritsar," Yechury said, adding that almost all items used by the handicapped are taxed at five percent, instead of zero percent earlier.

He said the decisions of the GST Council have "become virtually mandatory" and there is no approval or scrutiny by Parliament.

"Not a single paisa can be appropriated or spent by the government without the budget being approved by Parliament but not the GST," the CPM leader said.

Updated Date: Aug 03, 2017 19:19 PM

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