18 to 19 flights carrying over 150 people each have been operating from the Gulf everyday

In chartered flights and inter-state buses Keralites return in droves to voteBy Rsrikanth05 (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons
news Kerala2016 Saturday, May 14, 2016 - 16:52

With just two days left to go for polling day in the Kerala Assembly Elections, and many Keralites living out of the state and the country, eager efforts are being made for voters to return to the state in time to cast their vote.

Around 39 per cent of Kerala’s emigrants live in the UAE, and this election season, Keralites in the Gulf nations have been enthusiastic participants in the process. With numerous election meetings and campaigns having been carried out in the Gulf, a large number of Malayalee voters have been returning to their hometowns in Kerala to cast their vote.

The Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre, affiliated with the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), is at the forefront of efforts to bring Non-Resident Keralites to the state. 

“The KMCC has arranged for chartered flights. Around 2000 people from Dubai and 120 people from Bahrain have already reached Kerala with the help of these chartered flights. There will be more services in the coming days,” said president of KMCC, Oman, CKV Yousaf.

“The KMCC takes care of the ticket prices. However, a lot of these people have booked the return tickets on their own,” he added.

Further, a “vote flight” carrying between 120 and 150 expats from Bahrain will reach Karipur International Airport near Kozhikode on Saturday. Another 15 or 20 voters from Salala will also reach Kerala on Saturday.

Explaining the rationale behind KMCC’s initiative, Yousaf says, “A lot of people from the Gulf want the UDF to come back to power. Also, the party has given a ticket to a former president of KMCC, Qatar (Parakkal Abdulla) in the Kuttiadi constituency. So this is our way of helping the party.”

Meanwhile, the Manager of the Karipur International Terminal said that around 18-19 flights from the Gulf have been operating since Thursday. “These flights were all almost full, with each flight carrying around 150-170 people,” he added.

Closer to Kerala, many Malayalis living in Bengaluru are also heading back home for polling day.

Hence the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), is also running extra buses over and above its 55 regular services to Kerala. The corporation has started two extra services each to Palakkad, Kottayam and Thrissur, three services each to Kannur and Ernakulam, four to Kozhikode, and one to Mahe.

One KSRTC official said, “All the 55 regular buses and the extra buses were almost 100 percent full in the last two days. We are expecting 100 percent occupancy in the upcoming days as well.” The extra buses will also offer return services to Bengaluru, he added.

Sandra Anne Kuriakose, a student from Bangalore said that she would be travelling to Kottayam on Saturday as she wanted to cast her vote. “I am going to Kerala because this is my first vote and I don’t want to waste it,” told Sandra.

The KMCC in Bengaluru have also been providing bus services to Kerala voters. KMCC Bengaluru Secretary Moidu Maniyoor said that 15 buses will run from Bengaluru to Kerala on Sunday, out of which 14 buses are already full.

The buses arranged by KMCC will carry voters to various places including Kannur, Azhikode, Uduma, Manjeshwar and Kuthuparambu.

The passengers do not have to pay for tickets on these buses as they are being sponsored by KMCC, said Moidu.

 

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