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Hillary vs Obama, in Delhi restaurant

Washington, Jan. 25: The heat of the US presidential primaries is being felt in Delhi.

With no clear front-runner in either party yet, the growing American community in Delhi is being mobilised to make its choice among Democrats and Republicans.

Reflecting the early wisdom here that a Democrat is likely to move into the White House in January 2009, it is the Democrats in Delhi who are more active than their Republican rivals in mobilising the overseas primary vote.

Americans in Delhi who are registered Democrats will trek to Ploof Restaurant in Lodhi Colony on February 5, when there will be a showdown across the US between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton that may point to the eventual winner of the Democratic presidential nomination.

February 5 is known here as “Super Tuesday” because that day 24 states, including the more populous ones like California and New York, will choose their delegates to the nominating national convention of either party.

American Democrats in Delhi who wish to cast their ballots at the voting station in Lodhi Colony have been asked to bring their passports or any other proof of US citizenship.

Americans living elsewhere in India have been asked to register to vote and join Democrats Abroad by January 31. A ballot, a secure ID and instructions for voting will then be sent to them so that they can vote online in the Democratic Global Primary on February 5 and 6.

Democrats living in India are taking the process so seriously that Carolyn Sauvage-Mar, chairperson of the India branch of Democrats Abroad, has sent out a call for volunteers to assist voters at the Delhi Global Primary Voting Centre.

“Mandatory training for volunteers is scheduled for February 2,” according to her.

The voting centre in New Delhi will have music, humour and, of course, discounted drinks. Advertisements are also being taken out in the capital’s publications to promote the primary vote.

The voting for the Democratic primary in India is part of a global effort by the Democratic Party to mobilise Americans living abroad to take part in the US election process well before the actual voting in November.

The Indian unit of Democrats Abroad officially became a country committee of the global party organisation in March 2005 and has since been registering voters, sponsoring discussion groups and hosting visiting Democratic Party leaders.

The Republicans are expected to follow suit as the number of Americans in India grows with the deepening of Indo-US relations.

The Republicans have a global organisation, Republicans Abroad, which has no branch in India yet. But Republicans Abroad are in the middle of a worldwide effort to get overseas Americans to cast absentee ballots in the primaries in their respective states.

Units of Republicans Abroad in some countries are chaired by Indian Americans living or working in those countries.

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