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    May 06, 2014

    Overseas supporters of BJP back for polls


    ADAPA V. Prasad, a 60-year-old entrepreneur from Washington DC, has been risking Maoist violence in central India for the sake of the man he wants to see become the next prime minister: Narendra Modi.

    Travelling door-to-door in tribal areas of Chhattisgarh state, a hotbed of left-wing extremism, he has been asking people to vote for the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

    "India is going down the drain under the present Congress government. I cannot see that happen," said Mr Prasad, an American of Indian origin who left his homeland 25 years ago and has spent about US$2,000 (S$2,500) to travel back for polling.

    Echoing others who are fired up by Mr Modi's strident nationalism and development agenda, he sees the controversial 63-year-old as a means to create pride in the poverty-wracked country.

    "The impetus to come here (India) is to bring Modi as the prime minister. We don't want our country to be seen as a weak country," said Mr Prasad, who spent his younger days in Chhattisgarh but has never campaigned there before.

    He serves as a vice-president with the international network of the Hindu nationalist party, Overseas Friends of BJP (OFBJP) in the United States.

    A Delhi-based BJP leader coordinating international outreach efforts estimated that more than 4,000 non-resident Indians from over 30 countries have travelled to India to work for the party since January.

    "I received calls from many young people living abroad," said Vijay Jolly, global convenor for BJP's overseas affairs. "I have not seen such a phenomenon before."

    The high-octane social media campaign of the BJP, coupled with regular online interactions with its overseas members and the charisma of Mr Modi, has drawn these supporters to India, Mr Jolly said.