Rahul Gandhi with supporters
Rahul Gandhi with supporters before filing his nomination papers from Wayanad constituency, ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, in Wayanad, Thursday, April 04, 2019. Image Credit: PTI

Indian expatriates living in the UAE and belonging to the southern state of Kerala are spending as much as Dh900 (Rs17,100) to go home and vote and return thereafter.

According to Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre (KMCC), at least 5,000 people from here are flying home to campaign for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections to be held on April 23.

Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre officials after opening the help desk at their office in Dubai to facilitate documentation of amnesty seekers. Image Credit: Courtesy: KMCC

The expats, who are all members of the voluntary organisation based in the UAE, will be leaving in stages from tomorrow (Tuesday) until April 22 ahead of the voting scheduled next week.

Parliamentary elections will be held in a single phase in Kerala. Out of the total 20 constituencies in Kerala, Congress will be contesting from 16, IUML from two, while Kerala Congress (M) and RSP will be contesting from one constituency each.

Speaking to Gulf News, the Centre’s President, Ibrahim Elettil said 500 members and expats are flying tomorrow on an Air India flight to Calicut. The Indian election fever is on full swing in the UAE.

He said the Centre has been able to secure discounted flight rates for its members who are all travelling on the same flight.

Rahul Gandhi files nomination from Wayanad
Rahul Gandhi files nomination from Wayanad Image Credit: Twitter

The rest of the expats from Kerala are phasing their departure from April 17 until 22. “Most of us are voting for Rahul Gandhi. We like him,” said Elettil.

Meanwhile, opinion polls in Kerala have predicted a dismal result for the Left coalition in the state.

On April 4, Rahul Gandhi filed his nomination for Wayanad Lok Sabha in the presence of his sister and AICC General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. It was an exciting moment for Kerala supporters where Congress holds the maximum number of constituencies.

Wayanad is the second Lok Sabha seat Rahul Gandhi will be fighting from after Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.

Rahul and Priyanka in Wayanad 20190404
Congress President Rahul Gandhi with party General Secretary and Uttar Pradesh - East in charge Priyanka Gandhi Vadra during a roadshow after filing his nomination papers for Lok Sabha elections Image Credit: PTI

Gandhi’s nomination in Wayanad has been ridiculed by the opposition who mocked him for filing a nomination from the state which has traditionally been a safe seat for Congress as it has a large number of minorities as voters.

“We are all supporting Rahul Gandhi. Why do you think we are flying home – it is only because we want to vote for him. As an Indian citizen, it is our responsibility to vote for the right party to rule the state. It is great that the KMCC has been able to organise special rates for the elections.”

Rahul Gandhi with Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and other leaders
Rahul Gandhi with Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and other leaders wave at party supporters during a roadshow in Wayanad. Image Credit: PTI

Every year the Centre organises a special flight to take voters from the UAE.

Close on the heels of Rahul Gandhi filing his nomination from Wayanad, a tribal girl from Kuruchi tribal community secured a 410th rank in the Civil Services Examination, further sending excitement among residents of the district. It is said to be the highest rank secured by a student of a tribal community in Kerala giving her a position in the Indian Administrative Services (IAS).