What role did India play in Newton-North Delta?

Several people in Surrey say they were contacted by associates of an MLA in Punjab during the campaign.

Newton-North Delta NDP MLA Jinny Sims defeated Liberal incumbent Sukh Dhaliwal in the May 2 federal election.

Newton-North Delta NDP MLA Jinny Sims defeated Liberal incumbent Sukh Dhaliwal in the May 2 federal election.

About a week before the May 2 federal election, phone calls, emails and text messages began to fly in Newton-North Delta.

The messages urged recipients to stop supporting Liberal Sukh Dhaliwal and instead back NDP candidate Jinny Sims.

The content of the text and phone calls wasn’t as unusual as the source: non-Canadian family and supporters of an MLA in India.

Dhaliwal said Tuesday that Jassi Khangura, MLA of Qila Raipur, in Punjab, India, had been offended that the former MP had met with one of Khangura’s political opponents in India.

Dhaliwal alleges Khangura called in some of his political allies, including Garry Grewal from Los Angeles, to work against him during the campaign.

A photograph is circulating of Jinny Sims posing with Grewal during the campaign.

Khangura, reached in Punjab Wednesday, acknowledged there were people he knew working for parties opposed to Dhaliwal.

“People known to me were helping her (Sims) out,” Khangura told The Leader.

He insists their work wasn’t at his behest.

“People misread situations,” Khangura said.

Khangura said Dhaliwal was in India last year taking political positions in opposition to his own, but said he wasn’t offended by them.

“Dhaliwal was in India for three weeks in winter, and Dhaliwal did a lot of politicking in Punjab,” Khangura said. “I don’t know what the Parliamentary rules of democracy in Canada are, but I’m pretty sure we have to be careful what we do out of country.”

In Surrey, there are different claims.

Dhaliwal said he heard from several people who were contacted by Khangura and those close to him, urging them not to vote for, or work for, Dhaliwal.

One source, who asked not to be named, contacted The Leader and said he was text-messaged by Grewal, urging him to stop working for Dhaliwal.

He was offended that a U.S. citizen would be working against a local candidate.

And Jagdeep Grewal, a manager of a Newton business, told The Leader Wednesday he received a call from Bupinder Sidhu from Toronto during the campaign, urging him to vote against Dhaliwal. Sidhu – a relative of Khangura – is also seeking office in India, according to Jagdeep Grewal.

Sidhu called Jagdeep Grewal again and asked him to support NDP candidate Jinny Sims, who ended up winning.

Jagdeep Grewal said he called Khangura and expressed his disappointment that India was becoming involved in the local campaign.

“He (Khangura) got directly involved, and he also made calls to the people,” Grewal said, adding he spoke to him for about 10 minutes. “He did everything he can in his capacity (to oppose Dhaliwal).”

For her part, Sims said she met with Garry Grewal, who was in Newton from Los Angeles, who told her he thought she’d make a great Member of Parliament.

“I can’t say that he was actually out there door-knocking or in our campaign office or anything,” Sims said.  “He did say to me quite honestly he was supporting me and he wished me luck.”

She pointed out Grewal had supported Dhaliwal in previous campaigns.

kdiakiw@surreyleader.com