Melbourne, November 2: Amongst the surprise losses in the final results for the state’s councils votes, tallied, Monday included Indian origin councillors, the then, Wyndham Cr Gautam Gupta and Glen Eira Cr Oscar Lobo.

Gupta was recontesting for Wyndham council from Chaffey ward and was noted to have worked heavily in the last four years, around local issues including hospitals and infrastructure for Indian community.

He was also instrumental in the research and planning process for the Indian precinct in Wyndham.

This council witnessed a low voter turnout – Gupta’s Chaffey ward recording only about 60 per cent compared to state average of 73 per cent.

Yet Gupta recorded 3.47 per cent of the primary total votes, highest amongst all other Indian origin candidates in that ward.

Wyndham has also been named for receiving ‘high donkey votes’ numbers. Candidates listed first on the ballot were casted higher number of votes, thus benefitting in disguise.

Former Melbourne City councillor Stephen Mayne, in his Mayne Report of 2016 council elections, said Wyndham’s high donkey vote was “a joke needing reform”.

41 candidates contested for Harrison ward including at least 11 Indian origin candidates for 4 seats. Most candidates secured very meagre numbers.

Among the successful, Intaj Khan was re-elected for Wyndham with reports that amidst Harrison ward candidate deluge, at least eight candidates were preferencing him in a bid to ensure his re-election.

The Sunday Age in an investigative report revealed repeated failures by Khan to properly declare property and commercial interests, including large farmland masses and directorships in various companies, as required by a Councillor, under the local government laws.

Liberal backbencher Bernie Finn had earlier claimed in state parliament that Khan was financing a small army of dummy candidates for the council elections.

Several candidates accused of being linked to Khan, included Matt Riley, of ‘legalise cannabis’ fame who was “not really expecting to win” but was running to feed votes to Khan.

Khan secured 2239 votes out a total of 55,827 enrolled voters for that ward.

Another surprise loss was for Glen Eira council contestant, Oscar Lobo, who had earlier landed into hot waters for an alleged anti-Semitic comment about public security at Jewish events in 2015.

Lobo is otherwise a well known member of the Goan Indian community and has worked hard for years for promotion of Goan culture in Melbourne.

He has also worked for upliftment of Glen Eira for the last 7 years and his areas of work included demand for council’s cost benefit analysis; and honest and straight answers to public questions.

It remains to be tested which factors lead to his loss in the 2016 elections, although Lobo recorded 6.10 per cent of total primary votes in his Tucker ward.

Lobo offered an apology for the alleged anti Semitic comment but he denied his comments were anti-Semitic. He later attended a Jewish ‘familiarisation day’ at Jewish Museum in St Kilda, visited Jewish Holocaust Centre in Elsternwick and a local synagogue.

He told the Herald Sun that he had not intended “to incite any community… but said: (having guns at Jewish events) was dangerous and they should not draw attention to themselves.”

“…What I said was that they were well protected by the Government and that all this extra security would only draw more attention to themselves,” he said.

Noteworthy, Ms Frances O’Brien, QC wrote in a report, which investigated bullying allegations in the Glen Eira council, that:

Council defamed Oscar Lobo when censuring him for an alleged anti-semitic slur;

■ An email sent by Michael Lipshutz to Cr Lobo asking if he worked at a bank linked to terrorists was “discriminatory and not innocuous.”

The above report was accessed by Leader.

Lakhwinder Singh Dhillon contesting for Whittlesea council from the South West ward, tipped to command a large support, however, recorded only 666 primary votes.

Dhillon is the taxi driver who famously returned $110,000 left behind in his cab and was honoured by the Melbourne City Council for this act of honesty.

Casey, in south-east Melbourne also recorded a high number of candidates, but voting patterns ensured re-election of sitting mayor, Sam Aziz. He was instrumental in the decision against the building of a mosque within the council.

The council rejected a plan to build a place of worship for 470 Indian and Pakistani Muslims in Narre Warren. The council said that the decision was made based on planning requirements, the plan having earlier been opposed by VicRoads.

In Melbourne’s north, Tim Singh Lawrence was re-elected with 15.81 per cent of 22006 formal votes for Darebin from the Latrobe ward.

Darebin and Moreland registered a resounding success for the Greens.

While Darebin re-elected Trent McCarthy and elected 3 new Greens councillors; Moreland elected Sri-Lankan origin, Samantha Ratnam with a whopping 50.71 per cent of primary voting, along with 3 other Green councillors.

Moreland will also look almost half Green with 4 councillors from their ranks and Yarra going almost Greens with four out of the nine elected councillors being Greens.

Ratnam joins 243 other women councillors in Victoria to achieve a 38 per cent women of elected councillors in 2016. Other than Ratnam of Sri Lankan origin, none belong to Indian origin.

While, only 2 candidates of Indian origin have been elected in 2016 council elections, yet 2016 was by far the highest recorded Indian candidates contesting.

Speaking to Bharat Times, Arun Sharma of Celebrate India, said that most new Indian migrants seem “unwilling to work at the grass-root level before jumping into the fray.

“It is an embarrassment to have more than 50 candidates of Indian origin and only 2 winning…

“I am very surprised with Lobo and Gupta loss… obviously there would have been politics involved, given that they have worked for the community long…”

Mr Sharma, who has himself worked with and for the community for 40 odd years, and currently involved with annual Federation Square Diwali, lamented that new migrants are oblivious to the need for hard work but “want quick promotions and leadership.

“I fail to understand their notion of leadership…” Mr Sharma said, adding that there is marked difference between the settled community and new migrants and their approach to leadership roles.

“Leadership material require hard and long grass-root work”, he said.

Nidhi Mehta


Snippets of how Indian candidates fared in 2016 Victorian Council elections with respect to individual primaries:

Brimbank City Council 2016

Grasslands Ward (3 vacancies)

Enrolment: 37085
Formal Votes: 25252
RAJASEKAR, Alfred 409 1.62%
ASHRAF, Tauseef 524 2.08%

Harvester Ward (3 vacancies)

Enrolment: 37147
Formal Votes: 23963
SHETTY, Prathap 340 1.42%

Horseshoe Bend Ward (2 vacancies)

Enrolment: 23231
Formal Votes: 16275
RATNASEKARA, Vidhura 338 2.08%

Taylors Ward (3 vacancies)

Enrolment: 37129
Formal Votes: 25713
BADUARAMBE KANKANAMGE, Susil Ratnasekara 294 1.14%
WALIA, Wally Harpreet Singh 2507 9.75%
MATHEW, Ashok 562 2.19%


Casey City Council 2016

Edrington Ward (2 vacancies)

Enrolment: 38355
Formal Votes: 26518
PERERA, Ray 1442 5.44%

Four Oaks Ward (2 vacancies)

Enrolment: 33933
Formal Votes: 23737
AHMED, Afroz 678 2.86%

Mayfield Ward (2 vacancies)

Enrolment: 38451
Formal Votes: 24779
PUTTA, Aravind 527 2.13%
BANERJEE, Sid 350 1.41%
RAJPUT, Parampreet Singh 916 3.70%
PATEL, Sepalkumar 646 2.61%
VARGHESE, Jimmy 376 1.52%
KAUR, Kuldeep 374 1.51%

River Gum Ward (2 vacancies)

Enrolment: 34897
Formal Votes: 23150
FONSEKA, Gamini 957 4.13%
ROSARIO, Damien 2021 8.73%
RAMDANY, Pravin 497 2.15%
NAYAK, Nagaraj 818 3.53%
GULZARI, John 1084 4.68%
NAJIBI, Faisal 1375 5.85%
GREWAL, Sukhminder Singh 751 3.19%
HASSAN, Waleed 441 1.88%


Darebin City Council 2016

Cazaly Ward (3 vacancies)

Enrolment: 38113
Formal Votes: 23436
SURIYAKUMARAN, Nalliah 334 1.43%

La Trobe Ward (3 vacancies)

Enrolment: 33493
Formal Votes: 22006
LAURENCE, Tim Singh 3480 15.81%
KAUR, Swaranjeet 260 1.18%

Rucker Ward (3 vacancies)

Enrolment: 40063
Formal Votes: 24812
VERMA, Ash 1100 4.43%


Greater Dandenong City Council 2016

Lightwood Ward (3 vacancies)

Enrolment: 26600
Formal Votes: 17753
SINGH, Gagandeep 566 3.19%
NIVEN, Nathan 1227 6.91%

Paperbark Ward (3 vacancies)

Enrolment: 26952
Formal Votes: 16657
SHAMSI, Sajjad 260 1.56%

Red Gum Ward (3 vacancies)

Enrolment: 30515
Formal Votes: 15918
SINGH, Gagandeep 353 2.22%

Silverleaf Ward (2 vacancies)

Enrolment: 18178
Formal Votes: 11129
SHANMUGAM, Suresh 236 2.12%
JAFARI, Rajab 130 1.17%
GONSALVEZ, Geraldine 444 3.99%
HEWAVITHARANA, Pradeep 791 7.11%
REZAWI, Saied 211 1.90%


Frankston City Council 2016

North-East Ward (3 vacancies)

Enrolment: 37735
Formal Votes: 26072
PHILIP, Prasad 1896 7.27%
MAHADEVA, Mithrani 401 1.54%


Glen Eira City Council 2016

Tucker Ward (3 vacancies)

Enrolment: 34696
Formal Votes: 24430
LOBO, Oscar C. 1491 6.10%


Hobsons Bay City Council 2016

Wetlands Ward (2 vacancies)

Enrolment: 20502
Formal Votes: 14899
WALIA, Rahul 678 4.55%


Hume City Council 2016

Aitken Ward (4 vacancies)

Enrolment: 53225
Formal Votes: 35064
SINGH, Guri 2028 5.78%
ROSHA, Aman 366 1.04%
FERNANDO, Dilshan 469 1.34%
DE SILVA, Kevin 391 1.12%
BAMUNUSINGHE, Chandra 1881 5.36%
GARG, Narinder 420 1.20%

Meadow Valley Ward (4 vacancies)

Enrolment: 46120
Formal Votes: 32464
RAGUPATHY, Ravi 278 0.86%


Kingston City Council 2016

North Ward (3 vacancies)

Enrolment: 37387
Formal Votes: 26418
SINGHAL, Nandani 433 1.64%
BEVINAKOPPA, Gandhi 1208 4.57%


Knox City Council 2016

Friberg Ward (1 vacancy)

Enrolment: 13983
Formal Votes: 9519
NAGPAL, Nav 498 5.23%


Manningham City Council 2016

Koonung Ward (3 vacancies)

Enrolment: 29747
Formal Votes: 21441
VISA, Moti 806 3.76%


Melton City Council 2016

Cambridge Ward (3 vacancies)

Enrolment: 27279
Formal Votes: 18664
MOHAMMAD, Abdullah 854 4.58%
PERERA, Mano 347 1.86%
SINGLA, Deepika 352 1.89%
VERMA, Gary 1167 6.25%

Watts Ward (2 vacancies)

Enrolment: 22116
Formal Votes: 16498
CAMILLERI, Ujjala 745 4.52%
SINGH, Dilpreet 1346 8.16%
SOLANKI, Meena 211 1.28%


Monash City Council 2016

Glen Waverley Ward (2 vacancies)

Enrolment: 20243
Formal Votes: 16001
DEVENDRAN, Iona 917 5.73%

Mount Waverley Ward (3 vacancies)

Enrolment: 35935
Formal Votes: 25580
MISHRA, Shiv Gulam 429 1.68%

Mulgrave Ward (3 vacancies)

Enrolment: 30778
Formal Votes: 22922
SINHA, Gitanjali 368 1.61%
PERERA, Virosh 453 1.98%
PALIT, Sajal Kumar 269 1.17%
GHOSH, Jyoti 601 2.62%
ANAMIKA 318 1.39%

Oakleigh Ward (3 vacancies)

Enrolment: 37238
Formal Votes: 24490
JOSHI, Archna 751 3.07%


Moreland City Council 2016

North-East Ward (4 vacancies)

Enrolment: 45271
Formal Votes: 24934
MIAN, Afshan 956 3.83%


North-West Ward (4 vacancies)

Enrolment: 45205
Formal Votes: 25773
SHAKYA, Raju 772 3.00%
SHARMA LUITAL, Parsu 874 3.39%

South Ward (3 vacancies)

Enrolment: 35959
Formal Votes: 18260
BHUSAL, Vijay 108 0.59%
RATNAM, Samantha 9259 50.71%


Whittlesea City Council 2016

South East Ward (4 vacancies)

Enrolment: 53643
Formal Votes: 39740
KUMAR, Rakesh 1057 2.66%

South West Ward (4 vacancies)

Enrolment: 48552
Formal Votes: 33550
KAUR, Gurinder 594 1.77%
UBHI, Avinash Kaur 280 0.83%
SINGH, Lakhwinder 666 1.99%
KHAN, Imran 767 2.29%
SINGH, Judge 908 2.71%


Wyndham City Council 2016

Chaffey Ward (4 vacancies)

Enrolment: 47953
Formal Votes: 29125
SINGH, Satnam 610 2.09%
MAHMUD, Kamal 389 1.34%
AASHAT, Jatinder Singh 112 0.38%
SINGH, Nirmaljit 143 0.49%
GUPTA, Gautam 1012 3.47%
MANI, Sashi Damyanti 223 0.77%
PRABHAKAR, Rishi 616 2.12%
SYED, Abdul Mujeeb 140 0.48%
MOHAMMED, Mustafa 347 1.19%
GUPTA, Sahil 85 0.29%

Harrison Ward (4 vacancies)

Enrolment: 55827
Formal Votes: 30868
BHANDARI, Mahesh Singh 659 2.13%
SELVAKUMAR, Vinothini 242 0.78%
KHAN, Intaj 2239 7.25%
SIRITHEPVATTANA, Suwanee 111 0.36%
GOURISETTY, Dinesh 872 2.82%
MUHAMMAD, Azam 249 0.81%
RAIZADA, Monica 1080 3.50%
PATWARY, Tawhid Millat 184 0.60%
MIAN, Irfan Majeed 452 1.46%
MANOCHA, Himanshu 101 0.33%
NAIN, Brijender 103 0.33%

Iramoo Ward (3 vacancies)

Enrolment: 37230
Formal Votes: 24398
SINGH, R. J. 619 2.54%
HUSSAINI, Syed Hyder 190 0.78%

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