Former Member of Parliament Sukh Dhaliwal will be the Liberal candidate in the next federal election from Surrey-Newton riding. Dhaliwal won the nomination race after defeating his rival Randeep Singh Sarai by a margin of at least 2,000 votes in a contest that generated curiosity within the South Asian community across Canada.
The nomination race held on Saturday was followed by counting of votes that continued until late night. Dhaliwal emerged as winner with over 4,500 votes, while Sarai bagged close to 2,200 votes in the contest.
Dhaliwal– who has previously served the parliament from the Newton North Delta riding was defeated by current MP Jinny Sims in the 2011 federal election. The next election is scheduled for 2015.
Sources say that Dhaliwal was given green light by Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau, but following pressure from the grassroots supporters, he was forced to open nomination for the riding.
Dhaliwal was vehemently opposed by a section of the pro-India moderate Sikh leaders, who accused him of pandering Khalistanis by supporting a petition seeking justice for the victims of 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom. This group had supported Sims to ensure Dhaliwal’s defeat in the last election. Dhaliwal was reportedly denied Indian visa for supporting the controversial petition. However, Dhaliwal never publicly acknowledged it.
But since there are no permanent enemies and friends in politics, Dhaliwal was virtually abandoned by a section of the pro-Khalistan leaders who wanted to see Sarai- a turbaned Sikh nominated in his place.
In the meantime, Dhaliwal had to resign as BC Liberal candidate in the last provincial election, following allegations of tax evasion. Despite all odds against him, Dhaliwal was able to sign maximum number of supporters to win the nomination.