By Arré Bench Oct. 19, 2020
New Zealand’s winning Labour Party has an Indian connection: Dr Gaurav Sharma, the Labour candidate for Hamilton West, also registered a win. Sharma was born in Himachal Pradesh, and immigrated with his family to NZ in 2000. But life was not easy – Sharma and his family were reportedly homeless for a while in the new country.
New Zealand’s recently concluded national election saw Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Labour Party register another win, marking a new term for the current government. The Labour Party’s win has an Indian connection as well, as Dr Gaurav Sharma, the Labour candidate for Hamilton West, registered a win over rival Tim Macindoe in the polls. Sharma was born in India, in the state of Himachal Pradesh, and immigrated as a boy with his family to New Zealand in 2000. After being involved with the Labour Party since 2014, Sharma has now been elected to the parliament of his adopted country, New Zealand.
Dr Gaurav Sharma, who belongs to Hamirpur district and immigrated to New Zealand around 20 years ago, won the election from Hamilton West electorate as a Labour Party candidate.https://t.co/vfl6OfpUMx
— The Indian Express (@IndianExpress) October 18, 2020
Gaurav Sharma has not lost touch with his Indian roots. Reports mention how he prefers to speak in his native Pahari whenever he visits his home state of Himachal Pradesh. Back in India, news of his win was greeted with joy.
Gaurav Sharma , a family friend , becomes the first Indian to be elected as MP in New Zealand. A proud moment for Himachal Pradesh & India.
Thank you @jacindaardern . More power to you.
— (پراکول) Pracool (@thehighmonk) October 18, 2020
Even the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Jairam Thakur, took the opportunity to congratulate Sharma on his victory in the election. Thakur wished Sharma all the best on behalf of all the people of Himachal Pradesh.
गौरव आपने अपने नाम को सार्थक करते हुए विदेश में देवभूमि का भी नाम गौरवान्वित किया है, आपको देवभूमि हिमाचल की समस्त जनता की ओर से हार्दिक बधाई एवं अनंत शुभकामनाएँ। https://t.co/YsqnKfY6l3
— Jairam Thakur (@jairamthakurbjp) October 18, 2020
Life was not easy for Sharma after his family moved to New Zealand. Due to his father facing difficulties in finding a job, Sharma experienced homelessness while growing up. However, today he is a qualified doctor and newly minted parliamentarian, having overcome these obstacles.
Newly re-elected New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern’s cabinet includes Dr. Gaurav Sharma, an Indian-origin Labour Party leader from Himachal Pradesh. #GauravSharma #JacindaArdern #NewZealand https://t.co/bjde1zsOp3
— moneycontrol (@moneycontrolcom) October 19, 2020
In addition to these hardships, Sharma also experienced a taste of racism during the campaign. In the run-up to the election, a supporter of his was harassed by groups of men after she put up a sign supporting Sharma on her lawn. “This morning we found out that one lovely Hamiltonian was harassed and verbally abused by two sets of people for having signs supporting ‘a curry candidate.’ Racial discrimination is not new to me. Neither in politics nor in other spheres of life,” Sharma said in a Facebook post about the incident.
When Labour’s Dr Gaurav Sharma, who has beaten Tim Macindoe in Hamilton West, was out on the campaign trail in 2016 some people refused to shake hands with him because of the colour of his skin. What a win.#NZElection2020 https://t.co/HwVho5espm
— Angela Cuming (@AngelaCuming) October 17, 2020
From a homeless immigrant to a respected holder of public office, Gaurav Sharma has had quite a journey. And he’s only 33 years old.