JEDDAH: MD AL-SULAMI
The Interior Ministry will soon activate its online facility where expatriates can apply for visas for their spouses and children.
The new service was launched by Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad bin Naif, second deputy premier and minister of interior, last Tuesday.
Users must first register for the Abshir services of the ministry, which facilitates online requests from citizens and expatriates in English and Arabic, a source said.
The registration process involves choosing the icon for a new user, entering personal data such as iqama number, e-mail address, preferred language and mobile phone number, and agreeing to the terms and conditions.
The user should then go to a new page to confirm the application and provide a user identity and password. Fingerprinting at machines installed in different locations activates the account. Alternatively, a user can open an account at an office of the ministry.
The source stressed that visas would only be issued to those expatriates who are eligible to bring their families to the Kingdom.
Meanwhile, the ministry’s online appointments facility for services offered by the General Administration for Expatriates’ Affairs opened on Sunday. Users should visit the ministry’s portal and follow the instructions.
Aam Aadmi Party, or Common Man’s Party, leaders Arvind Kejriwal, center, and Ashutosh, second left, hug as they celebrate news of their party’s performance in New Delhi, India. (AP)JEDDAH: SIRAJ WAHAB
Many Indian expatriates here are rejoicing after the sweeping victory of a little-known Indian political party over the ruling rightwing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in Delhi state elections.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), or Common Man’s Party, led by anti-corruption crusader Arvind Kejriwal, who was ridiculed by Modi during electioneering, won 67 out of 70 Delhi Assembly seats during the polls last week. The results were declared on Tuesday morning.
The BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi was among the losers. Muslims overwhelmingly voted for the secular AAP. Four community representatives contesting on AAP tickets won with comfortable margins. They were Amanatullah Khan (Okhla), Imran Hussain (Ballimaran), Asim Ahmad Khan (Matia Mahal) and Mohammed Ishraque (Seelampur).
The verdict, coming just nine months after Modi won an overwhelming national vote, indicated that the maverick prime minister has lost considerable appeal.
“This is the defeat caused by arrogance,” said Dr. M.S. Karimuddin, a well-known Jeddah-based Indian community elder. “The attacks on churches, the campaign of calumny against Muslims, and the carte blanche given to big corporations resulted in this massive defeat for Modi and his BJP.”
Narasimhan Venkat from Hafr Al-Baten said any leader who tries to play with the Indian ethos of pluralism and inclusiveness would pay a heavy price. “Indians voted in large numbers for Modi in the last general elections because he talked of development,” he said.
“Nine months later, he was presiding over a country that seemed divided and scared,” said Venkat. “This is the reason why Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Sikhs came together to pull the country back from the brink of sectarian disaster,” he added.
Longtime Indian expat Nafis Tarin was elated at the results. “The AAP has restored our faith in democracy and secularism,” he told Arab News. “This is the beginning of a new era. The people of Delhi deserve to be given their weight in gold for scripting this spectacular victory for the AAP and puncturing the huge egos of Modi and BJP President Amit Shah.”
Expatriates said communal parties should have no place in India’s democracy. “Indians of all hues have rejected parochial parties,” said Mohammed Azeemuddin from Riyadh. “Muslims were especially angry with Ahmad Bukhari, the self-styled imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid who came out in support of the AAP.”
“I am very happy that the AAP rejected his offer. These are communal people and Muslims have rejected them. Muslims needed a viable alternative. In the absence of one, they voted begrudgingly for Congress. But now that they had the option they exercised it to the fullest and so the AAP won,” said Azeemuddin.
Dr. Saleem Mehkri from Madinah said: “Hopefully this trend continues in all the other states and both the fascist BJP and the hidden devil Congress make way for a balanced non-corrupt secular party.”
Arif Shah from Riyadh said it was “spectacular,” while Zahyr Siddiqi, from Jeddah, said that India is “changing for good.”
Abdulla Umerkhan from Jubail said all Indians “should salute the people of Delhi. No caste, no creed, no color, no community, no vote bank — this is a message to the world from the people of the Indian capital, that we Indians are one … no force can drive a wedge between us.”
“This was the battle between the storm and the candle. The candle has won,” said Yogendra Yadav, a senior member of the AAP. “How could we even think of fighting such big political parties with so much money? But the people have carried us on their shoulders today.”
In the last local elections in December 2013, the BJP won 31 seats in the legislature. In May 2014, Modi helped the party take all seven of Delhi’s national parliamentary seats. Observers say the scale of the BJP’s reversal is stunning because voters have unquestionably grown impatient waiting for the “achche din” (good days) that Modi promised them.
Modi may regret having raised expectations so high during his candidacy. He promised new jobs, revived growth, lower inflation and an end to corruption and cronyism. His record on all fronts has been patchy, say expatriates.
One television news station called the outcome a “tectonic shift in Indian politics.”