Dharamsala, March 20 (IANS) Even as Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama rejected appeals to reconsider his decision to hang his boots, voting to elect the next Kalon Tripa or prime minister-in-exile began Sunday.
The exiled Tibetans attach greater significance to the polls as they feel the major political leadership of the government-in-exile is going to rest on the shoulders of the next prime minister.
Voters will also elect 43 members of the Tibetan parliament.
As many as 83,399 voters settled in India, Nepal, Bhutan, the US, Europe, Australia, Japan, Russia and other countries will exercise their franchise, election official Jamphel Choesang told IANS.
The Dalai Lama doesn't vote. The results will be declared April 27.
The three candidates in the fray for the prime minister's post are Lobsang Sangay, Tenzin Namgyal Tethong and Tashi Wangdi.
Sangey is a senior fellow of Harvard Law School. Diplomat Tethong is also settled in the US. Tashi Wangdi has been the Dalai Lama's representative in Brussels, New York and New Delhi.
Sangey emerged as the frontrunner during the Oct 3, 2010 primary poll to nominate candidates for the prime minister.
The Dalai Lama and his supporters fled Tibet and took refuge in India when Chinese troops took control of Lhasa in 1959. He has headed the Tibetan government-in-exile since then.
Some 140,000 Tibetans live in exile, over 100,000 of them in India.