By Umendra Singh
The NDP solidarity in Surrey-Delta has been fractured by the political antics of a few influential individuals trying to get their way in ensuring only their candidate gets nominated in Surrey Green Timbers.
The “political antics” has dealt a near death blow to NDP’s chances of sweeping the Surrey-Delta area seats that the NDP is counting on to help it form a government in May’s provincial general election.
It also led to party leader John Horgan scrambling late last weekend to phone and meet with upset heavyweight South Asian supporters in Surrey-Delta to prevent a planned protest at the Surrey-Green Timbers NDP nomination meeting last Sunday at which Rachna Singh was acclaimed as the party candidate.
At these meetings, Horgan admitted that the process by which Singh got the nomination unopposed was “not fair” and not the way the NDP would prefer to hold nominations, according to someone who attended the meeting.
But since time was running short, it would be difficult to order a nomination meeting and Horgan asked these supporters to swallow their anger at being hoodwinked by an unfair process and support the party candidates in the coming election.
Poor Mr Horgan was run off his feet – trying to placate supporters angry at political antics of senior party members and some party functionaries at the headquarters.
The protest at the nomination may have been averted but deep divisions remain among the NDP supporters in Surrey-Delta and Fraser Valley area.
Here is a recap of how it all started.
Surrey Green Timbers NDP riding association sent out a notice to its members in early December, 2016, announcing January 29, 2017, as the nomination date with the deadline for prospective candidates to file their nomination papers with the party by December 30, 2016. This notice was only sent to current members of the NDP Surrey Green Timbers and Rachna lives in Delta and is not a member of the Surrey Green Timbers NDP and should not have received this notice.
However, according to party sources, she filed her nomination papers with the party before the deadline. The question is how?
Hammell announced her intent to retire to on January 3 and the news was published on January 4.
Hammell told The Asian Star that she does not “recall” if she had “tipped off” Rachna about her plans to retire before the December 30 deadline for filing nominations.
Rachna Singh had earlier told The Asian Star that Sue Hammell started talking to her in mid December about her plans to retire. She said therefore she sent a letter of intent to NDP before Christmas (December 25) to say she would be interested in seeking nomination if Hammell indeed retired.
Rachna said Hammell’s announcement came on January 4 and she submitted her nomination papers to the party on January 5. When reminded that her January 5 filing would have missed the deadline of December 30, Rachna said: “But I sent my letter of intent before Christmas.”.
BC NDP deputy director, Glen Sanford, maintains Rachna filed her nomination on December 24 and says she followed up with a letter of intent on January 4.
He said the party will maintain that despite what Rachna told The Asian Star, she had in fact filed her nomination papers before the December 30,2016, deadline and she was the only person to do so. No proof or documentary evidence has been provided to support this claim. Critics say even if Rachna filed her nomination before December 30 deadline, it proves their claim that she was given an unfair advantage with Rachna getting insider information that Sue Hammell was retiring and she should file her nomination – well before anyone else had the opportunity to do so. This is the unfair advantage that has upset so many NDP supporters leading to finger pointing.
Who gave Rachna the unfair advantage? Fingers are being pointed at outgoing MLA Sue Hammell, for tipping off Rachna in advance to give her an unfair advantage, NDP candidate in North Delta, Ravi Khalon and Newton MLA Harry Bains, both of whom allegedly did not want Rachna seeking nomination against Khalon in North Delta, where Rachna lives, and asked her to move to Surrey Green Timbers to be assured of a nomination.. Bains has denied the allegations saying he was not part of any conspiracy to give Rachna an advantage and Kahlon could not be reached by press time.
Critics are also sharply critical of Rachna’s inability to win the Surrey Green Timbers due to what they say is her lack of name recognition or community work within the South Asian community and Surrey Green Timbers.