Iranians in India vote in presidential polls

Friday, June 12, 2009

NEW DELHI - Iranians thronged the Iran Cultural House here Friday to vote in their presidential elections, which are being seen as a tough contest between incumbent conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and moderate candidate Mirhossein Mousavi.

The library of the cultural house was turned into a makeshift polling booth for

expatriates to exercise their franchise.

Yajhoopi Kaepeh, 28, a student of Jamia Hamdard, though sitting thousands of kilometres from her hometown, has been consumed with Iranian politics.

For the last one month, I have been really following the campaign on the internet. Whenever we get together, the only thing we discuss are the elections, said Kapeh, who was wearing a black robe, covering her from head to toe.

The polls opened here at 9 a.m and closed at 7 p.m. Throughout the day, there were Iranians trickling in to exercise their democratic right - though the majority of the students had left for home due to the vacations.

Iranian nationals had to prove their identity by showing their passport. They were then given a form, where they had to write down their details and also their choice of candidate. Unlike in India, there are no electoral rolls or a ballot paper.

The voting paper was folded and cast in a big box. The proof of having cast a vote was a stamp on the passport.

Once the polls closed at 7 p.m., the votes were counted, as was done in other Iranian consulates in India, including Mumbai and Hyderabad. A fax with the India results was then sent to the nodal ministry in Tehran.

While most voters declined to give their chosen candidates, an informal straw poll showed that most were pitching for Mousavi.

According to Iranian Ambassador Syed Mehdi Nabizadeh, there has remained a continuity in Iran’s relations with India, despite changes in the presidential system.

He said in recent years there has been a widening in economic ties between the two countries. When I came, the trade volume was at $8 billion. Now it lies at $12 billion, he said.

Filed under: Diplomacy, Politics

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