An election forum, called, ‘Meet the Voter’ organised by the Indian Association of New Zealand (IANZ) on September 2 at its Papatoetoe headquarters was marred by unruly behaviour of Sunny Kaushal, Leader of the Crime Prevention Group (CPG).
Appearing on behalf of their Party were Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi (National), Priyanca Radhakrishnan (Labour), New Zealand First (Mahesh Bindra), Green Party (Raj Singh) and New Zealand People’s Party (Roshan Nauhria).
Indian Newslink neither received an invitation nor information to attend the meeting but we had the benefit of watching the proceedings on Facebook.
What we saw was appalling.
The despicable incident occurred during a discussion on law and order.
Describing the policies presented by the Party representatives as ‘wishy-wishy,’ Mr Kaushal accused them of not visiting any victims of robbery and violence – mostly diaries, superettes, liquor stores.
Mr Bindra was the first to retort saying that he had visited a few victims, which was immediately endorsed by a victim who was present at the meeting.
Mr Bakshi also said that he had made a few visits.
Ms Radhakrishnan said that she had also visited a few victims, upon which Mr Kaushal shouted, “No, you have not… all lies.”
He had to be silenced by Mr Bindra, Mr Bakshi, Mr Nauhria and a couple of members of the audience.
“You have not announced that you belong to the National Party,” Mr Bindra said, a view endorsed by Mr Bakshi.
“Such language is not permitted even in the debating chamber of Parliament. He spoiled the decorum of the Forum,” a member of the audience told us.
IANZ Vice-President Ram Lingam filed the following report:
Association President Suresh Ramji made three points.
Indians balance their cultural capital with their intellectual capital. The second point was that IANZ was the only body which has representatives from all parts of India and all age groups. “We don’t consider ourselves as migrants but as Kiwis of Indian origin.”
He pointed out that Indians make up a little over 4% of the New Zealand population but contribute 8% of the country’s GDP.
The third point was Indian voters are not a monolithic block. This was exemplified by the robust and often heated exchanges between the audience and the politicians and sometimes between audience members.
At the end of the event, a jury comprising Prithipal Singh, Vinod Kumar and Veer Khar, adjudicated on the proceedings.
Party Representatives (from left) Raj Singh, Roshan Nauhria, Priyanca Radhakrishnan, Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi and Mahesh Bindra. (Picture supplied)