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  • Harkirat Singh (L), Shireen Morris (C), and Navdeep SIngh (R). (Supplied)
Many Indian-origin candidates tried their luck in the Australian federal elections, out of which only a few have been able to put up a fight and only one with a distant Indian connection has secured a win.
20 May 2019 - 4:18 PM  UPDATED 20 May 2019 - 9:07 PM

From watching the Australian elections as ‘outsiders’ to contesting the elections to reflect the interests of the community, the Indian diaspora in Australia has undoubtedly traversed a long distance.

But while many Indian-origin candidates were in the running in the 2019 federal elections, only a few have been able to put up a fight and only one with a distant Indian connection has been able to get a foot in the door.

Here’s a look at how some of them fared:

Dave Sharma:

Born to a father of Indian heritage, Dave Sharma is lone amongst a slew of candidates with an Indian background who has managed to secure a victory.

Mr Sharma claimed Wentworth with 51.16 per cent of the vote by defeating independent MP Kerryn Phelps in a high-profile Sydney seat once held by former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

The 42-year-old, who has served as an ambassador to Israel, had previously lost to Ms Phelps in a by-election six months ago.

Shireen Morris:

Although Labor’s candidate from Deakin, Shireen Morris didn’t win, nevertheless she gave a tough fight to Liberal MP Michael Sukkar who managed to retain the suburban Melbourne seat by a narrow margin.

A prominent constitutional lawyer of Fijian-Indian descent, Ms Morris managed to secure a 3.2 per cent swing in her party’s favour, despite being repeatedly accused by Liberals of being a dual Fijian citizen, a claim which was later discredited.

Born to an Indian father and a Fijian mother, had she won, Ms Morris would have been the first woman from either party to have been elected in Deakin’s 82-year history.

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Banks is not considered a “safe” seat for any candidate. Mr Gambian, as well as its current MP and Immigration Minister David Coleman, is in for a surprise.

Chris Gambian:

Born to Indian parents who hailed from southern India, Chris Gambian tried his luck and failed for the second time to win back the NSW seat of Banks, one of the most marginal seats in the country.

Mr Gambian, a former Finance Sector Union official, lost to Liberal MP David Coleman who reclaimed the seat with approximately 39,000 votes as compared to Mr Gambian’s 28,161.

Rajan Vaid:

Rajan Vaid, who was the Conservative National Party’s candidate from Hindmarsh electorate in South Australia barely managed to scrape 1,632 votes, the lowest among the main political parties.

Earlier in May, Mr Vaid drew flak from the Indian community when he decided to run for Senator Fraser Anning’s party, infamous for its inflammatory rhetoric concerning immigration.

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Rajan Vaid, who came to Australia in 2007, feels Australia should stop taking in more migrants till the time the pressure on resources and jobs eases away.

Aruna Chandrala:

Aruna Chandrala was the first Indian-origin female Senate candidate contesting on a Labor ticket from New South Wales, but however, she failed to leave her mark on the political spectrum.

Ms Chandrala migrated from India more than 30 years ago and is a prominent member of the Telugu community in NSW.

She had earlier hit headlines for her alleged involvement in the running of an Indian-based company called Ayushman Herbals which sold pseudoscientific health products, including “vagina tightening cream”, and “breast enlargement cream”.

Parwinder Sarwara:

Labor's Parwinder Sarwara also failed to make it to the Senate. The Indian-origin businessman was party's number four candidate from Victoria. During the campaign, he was subjected to allegations concerning his decade-old construction business.

Navdeep Singh:

Greens Senate candidate from Queensland Navdeep Singh also failed to make it to the upper house.

Now a businessman based in Brisbane, Mr Singh hails from a farming family from the northern Indian state of Punjab.

In 2016, he had contested state elections against the Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in the electorate of Inala. 

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Harkirat Singh:

Greens candidate from the Victorian seat of Gorton secured 4,943 votes. The seat has been retained by Labor MP Brendan O’Connor who has held it since its creation in 2004.

Vivek Singha

Liberal’s Vivek Singha didn’t go down without a fight in McMohan which has been a Labor stronghold held by veteran leader Chris Bowen for the past 15 years.

Mr Singha secured 23,476 votes in the NSW seat which has only been won by Labor Party ever since its creation in 1969, according to data from the Australian Electoral Commission.

Jennifer Van Den Broek:

Born to Indian-origin parents, Liberal candidate Jennifer Van Den Brook secured 26,138 votes from Holt division, a safe Labor electorate.

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Jatinder Singh Bobby is a United Australia Party from the Victorian electorate of Holt.

Jatinder Singh Bobby was the other Indian-origin candidate from Holt running on a United Australian Party ticket, who failed to make an impact with a meagre 4,306 votes.

Sachin Joshi:

Liberal’s candidate from the NSW seat of Paterson who had made an insensitive comment on gender pay gap lost the battle to incumbent Labor MP Meryl Swanson.

Gurpal Singh:

Former Liberal candidate Gurpal Singh secured nearly 15,000 votes in the Victorian seat of Scullin.

Mr Singh was disendorsed as a candidate by the Liberals for his criticism of an alleged rape victim.

Other candidates:

Among other candidates who failed to make a difference are: One Nation’s Nikhil Aai Reddy who was contesting from QLD’s seat of Petrie and three UAP candidates- Sahil Chawla from WA’s Burt, Raj Samson from Northern Territory’s seat of Solomon and Chandra Singh from NSW’s Eden-Monaro seat, all of whom suffered defeat.

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