AFTER the robust backlash from the Vancouver South riding scandal (see Rattan’s Rumble) in which businessman Barj Dhahan was forced to step down in favour of Lt-Col. (retired) Harjit Singh Sajjan, whose father Kundan Sajjan and political backer Prem Vinning are well connected to the World Sikh Organization, more and more South Asians in the Surrey-Newton federal riding are likely to support former MP Sukh Dhaliwal whose rival for the Liberal nomination on Saturday is Randeep Sarai who is also backed by Vinning.
Although the WSO made it clear in a press release on Thursday that it “does not, as a matter of policy, endorse or support any specific political party or individual candidates” and so on, the fact remains that one of its most prominent members, Vinning, is a well-known political fixer who is not exactly popular.
Also, the shameful manner in which some leading conservative Sikh figures ditched Dhaliwal, who had risked his neck in supporting their peaceful calls for a Khalistan homeland and justice for victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in India when he was an MP, exposed their rank opportunism.
Federal NDP sources told me that they would be jubilant if Sarai won because incumbent NDP MP Jinny Sims reportedly afraid of facing Dhaliwal in the next election. But she sees Sarai as a weak candidate.
Dhaliwal was MP for Newton-North Delta from 2006 to 2011 until he lost to Sims. Both Dhaliwal and Sims have their base of support. That is why there have been rumours that Sims might have encouraged her supporters to become Liberal members for the nomination process to ensure that Dhaliwal loses to Sarai.
The latest Ipsos Reid poll conducted between November 10 and December 1 shows that in B.C. there is a three-way race: Conservatives (33%), NDP (30%) and Liberals (28%). In other words, all three parties are “within striking distance,” as Ipsos Reid put it.
In the Surrey-Newton riding, so far, no strong Conservative candidate has emerged. But if Sarai wins, sources told me that at least one well-known South Asian figure will be ready to run as the Conservative candidate as he will be able to woo away a lot of Liberal supporters.
While Dhaliwal has acted with DIGNITY, Sarai has been PUSHY and has ended up putting off too many people – and his WSO-associated supporters have only made matters worse.
– RATTAN MALL