Victoria, home to over 110,000 people of Indian-origin, is set to hold its next elections on November 29. With Indians seen as the fastest growing community in the state, Punjabi emerging as the fastest-growing language and Hinduism being the fastest-growing religion, the diaspora is becoming an active player in politics at all levels.
This year, a dozen Indians would be in the fray from many suburbs, representing several political parties including Liberal, Labor, Greens, Australian Christians and even as an independent candidate.

Sanjay Nathan would represent the Labor Party while the Liberal party has nominated over six candidates, including Amita Gill, Moti Visa, Phulvinderjit Singh, Gandhi Bevinakoppa and George Varughese.

Three Indians are representing Australian Greens party – Raj Nayak, Gurm Sekhon and Alexandra Bhathal. Australian Christians have recruited Gurmender Grewal and Chandra Ojha is contesting as an independent candidate.
A record 896 candidates will be standing this year in the state election and there are 21 registered political parties in Victoria. There are 789 endorsed candidates of registered political parties standing and 107 independent candidates.

So far, no Indian has ever made to the state parliament and only four Indians -- Gautam Gupta, Intaj Khan, Tim Lawrence and Oscar Lobo -- have been able to reach as councillors representing the local council bodies.

Gupta, Councillor from Wyndham Vale, said political parties have been non-serious towards Indian diaspora. "Liberal party did recruit few Indian candidates but no one is going to win as they all are losing seats for the party from those area," Gupta said, adding that "today state Parliament comprises Chinese, Sri Lankan and Cambodian, but no Indian."
Manoj Kumar, a former Labor party contestant, said even though there was a visible representation this time in the state politics, there is no chance for any Indian to win any seat. Holding a different view, Liberal candidate Phulvinder Singh said "greater representation in political field will help Indians to integrate in the Australian society as well culture."
"Whether it is winning or losing a seat, it does not matter. Political parties want to acknowledge our community," Singh said. Moti Visa, a Liberal Party candidate for the Upper House, said his party has been keen to develop relations with the diaspora and hence rolled out tickets and some big promises.
As a part of their respective campaigns to woo the diaspora, political parties have promised funds for celebrating festivals like Diwali and Holi in the state. In this year's campaign, Labor has promised to set up a cultural precinct for the diaspora, Australian dollars 120,000 in Holi festival to be given in four years time and Australian dollars 120,000 for the Diwali festival.
Liberal party announced a Gandhi statue and an Indian museum, Australian dollars 180,000 for renovation of Vaishnav temple and half a Million dollar to Hare Krishna temple.
Interestingly, Liberal party has also disqualified an Indian candidate Nitin Gursahani from contesting polls after his alleged involvement in bringing Bollywood star Sunny Leone for a Melbourne Event.

According to a media report, a Liberal Party spokesman confirmed that Gursahani was no longer endorsed. "This material does not reflect the values that underpin our party. Gursahani's phone number was listed with online advertisements for one of Leone's Melbourne events," the spokesman said.


Latest News from World News Desk