Representatives of Punjab's political parties are busy campaigning and fundraising in British Columbia among the sizeable Indo-Canadian community, especially Sikhs, ahead of the Feb 13 polls in Punjab. The party members are focusing on Surrey where there is a large Indo-Canadian population. Although Indo-Canadians are not allowed to vote in Indian elections, but the campaign leaders are hoping to influence them enough so that they are able to sway votes back home among relatives.
Among the parties campaigning in Surrey is the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar). Its leader Simranjit Singh Mann attracted more than 700 Indo-Canadians last week at the Grand Taj Banquet Hall when he gave a speech via webcam from India. Indo-Canadian Paul Brar, whose father-in-law is one of the candidates for the elections, organised a rally of more than 100 people in Surrey. "They (Indo-Canadians) can affect the outcome of the elections because sometimes the victory is decided by 1,000-2,000 votes, and a call from here is very important. People do listen to people from Canada and they vote that way," Brar said.
"It's not legal for political parties in India to accept contributions from a foreign source. But he said Indian citizens living abroad can make political donations," according to Ashok Kumar, consul general of India in Vancouver.