You don’t have to be a British Citizen to vote in United Kingdom’s general elections. In fact, the current laws of UK enable Indian citizens to participate in country’s parliamentary elections, thanks to the anachronism from the days of the British empire. The Indian citizens ( not British citizens of Indian origin) including students, professionals and others residing in Britain for over six months and also those who are permanently residing in Britain but have retained their Indian citizenship are eligible to vote in UK general elections. The number of such Indian citizens in the last census was over 265,000.
Notedly, thousands of such Indian voters cast their votes in UK’s mid-term elections which was held on June 8 (today). The laws not only allow legally resident Indian citizens to vote but also to contest elections. It’s not only India, other commonwealth countries like Canada, Australia can also participate in UK parliamentary elections.
Gurminder K. Bhambra, a Professor at University of Warwick, writes “The BNA, British Nationality Act, was passed in light of India gaining her independence in 1947, and the white settler dominion colonies of Canada, New Zealand and Australia set to become fully independent in 1948. As Britain was still an imperial state, despite these losses, the form of citizenship outlined in the BNA was shared across the UK – its colonies, its former colonies and its dominion territories. These were citizen of the UK and its colonies and commonwealth citizen. All those from the former colonies, and dominions such as India, Canada and Australia, etc, were eligible.There was no separate or distinct category of citizenship for people in Britain.”
According to a report by Migration Watch UK, there could be as many as one million migrants from the Commonwealth who have the right to vote in UK parliamentary elections. A leading campaign group has recently demanded cancellation of the voting rights of Indians and Commonwealth citizens since British citizens do not have the same rights in those countries.