From personal remarks and scuffles to tears, the by-election held in Mt Roskill (Auckland) on December 3, 2016 was nothing less than an entertaining Bollywood drama.
National Party candidate Dr Parmjeet Parmar (a sitting Member of Parliament on the Party’s List), carried out an unusual campaign.
Unusual because, our then Prime Minister John Key was backing a candidate who seldom introduces herself to people engage in ‘What can I do for you?’ conversations.
I have had opportunities to interview Parmjeet on multiple occasions.
Paling by contrast
While Michael Wood (the Labour Candidate who won in the by-election) is a clone of Phil Goff who resigned the Mt Roskill seat to contest and win the Auckland Mayoralty, Parmjeet tried her best to be a replica of Mr Key.
She would often repeat what he leader said but would forget the compassion with which he speaks and interacts with people.
Consider the issue of Indian students who are being deported due to visa issues as an example. Her stance was blunt – “The students signed their respective documents and hence they are responsible.”
Bill English (who was then Deputy Prime Minister) said the same during a public meeting held in Lynfield; his voice was amidst the protests outside the venue.
He was sympathetic but spoke of the complications involved in changing government procedures in both countries.
Asked about affordable housing or minimum wage (where she even managed to move a person to tears) she simply said that more money should come from somewhere else.
Ordinary New Zealanders want their political representative to address their issues and voice their concerns. Parmjeet came across as a person who just does not care.
She demonstrated her ignorance or indifference or both on public transport, traffic and other issues bothering residents of Mt Roskill, saying that there was nothing wrong in expecting the buses to meet the growing demand.
It became evident that Parmjeet has never travelled in a bus, whereas I am told that Michael Wood uses the bus service extensively not only because he believes that he is a common man but also because he can meet many people in the constituency.
While he was talking about transforming Mt Roskill into a more prosperous region in Auckland, Parmjeet was running a campaign to win the election.
It is not always necessary for a big party machine to run smoothly especially in electorate level politics.
In the end, even the front benchers of National Party were seen distancing themselves from the campaign, and people of Mt Roskill giving a clear verdict of their preference.
Mehak Vashist is a programme presenter at Radio Tarana. The views expressed in the above article are personal and not those of the Radio station.