Celebrations muted as Sikhs gain first NZ MP
A one-time Indian businessman Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi has been elected to New Zealand’s new parliament on the winning National Party ticket.
Formerly resident in New Delhi, he will be New Zealand’s first Sikh MP in an electoral shake-up that has produced the country’s most ethnically diverse parliament.
As well as five Maori MPs, it will feature a record number of six immigrant Asian members, including candidates from Shanghai, Korea, Pakistan and Suva.
Mr Bakshi is one of 59 National Party MPs who will form a governing alliance with two smaller parties, ACT New Zealand and the United Future. They take the reins of power from the Labour Party, which will have only 43 seats, forming a 53 seat opposition with the Green Party and the Progressives.
The Maori MPs are non-aligned.
Sikh celebrations of Mr Bakshi’s success have been muted by pre-election allegations that since he arrived in the country in 2001 he has offered jobs to Indian nationals, instead of locals. Mr Bakshi, who denies any wrong doing, reportedly has business interests in property, wholesaling and fashion.
A number of Sikh Society members have called Mr Bakshi’s actions into question and immigration and labour authorities are assessing information passed to them,
Mr Bakshi said the allegations had done little to dent his support in the Manukau East election. “People are saying it is just a smear campaign against me,” he said.
The National Party”s success sees leader John Key taking over from Helen Clark, who had headed the Labour government since 1999.
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