It is Punjabi versus Punjabi in many constituencies in Canada which is headed for parliamentary elections May 2.
Three major parties – the ruling Conservative Party, and two opposition Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party – have fielded 23 Indian-origin candidates to woo the million-strong Indo-Canadian community.
But barring Bengali-origin candidate Rana Sarkar, all Indian-origin candidates are Punjabi, including former federal health minister Ujjal Dosanjh, current parliamentary secretary Deepak Obhrai and the glamorous Ruby Dhalla.
Not surprisingly, it is all-Punjabi affair in some constituencies.
In Bramalea-Gore-Malton on the suburbs of Toronto, the longest-serving Indian-origin MP Gurbax Malhi of the Liberal Party is locked in a triangular race with fellow Punjabi Bal Gosal of the ruling Conservative Party and Jagmeet Singh Dhaliwal of the left-leaning New Democratic Party (NDP).
Malhi, the western world’s first Sikh MP when he was elected first from this constituency in 1993, is seeking to retain the seat for the seventh time.
In the Newton-North Delta constituency on the outskirts of Vancouver, two Sikh women – Mani Kaur-Fallon of the ruling party and Jinny Sims (Joginder Kaur) of the NDP – are pitted against sitting MP Sukh Dhaliwal of the Liberal Party.
Punjab-born Dhaliwal, who tabled a motion in the Canadian parliament last year to recognize the 1984 anti-Sikh riots as an act of genocide, faces the prospect of being unseated by the fiery Jinny Sims who has been a teachers’ union president.
In another Vancouver suburb constituency of Fleetwood-Port Kells, it is a battle between two Sikh women – sitting MP Nina Grewal of the ruling Conservative party and Pam Dhanoa of the Liberal Party.
However, it is the Brampton-Springdale constituency in the Toronto area which is making the headlines here as sitting Sikh woman MP Ruby Dhalla is fighting for her political survival against Parm Gill of the ruling Conservative party.
Voted as one of the sexiest women politicians in the world by Maxim magazine, the 37-year-old Dhalla hit national headlines in 2009 in what was termed Canada’s ‘nannygate’ where her two former caretakers alleged exploitation at the MP’s home.
A former beauty queen, Dhalla is a three-time MP. By Gurmukh Singh