The New Zealand First Party’s sole Indian-origin candidate, Mahesh Bindra, has withdrawn his candidacy from the Panmure-Ōtāhuhu electorate in the upcoming general election, citing personal reasons.
Bindra, who has been a member of New Zealand First since 2006, expressed his withdrawal, stating, “I have withdrawn my candidacy from this year’s elections due to some personal reasons.” While he withdrew, Bindra clarified that he remained a member of New Zealand First.
This decision to step out of the electoral race comes shortly after New Zealand First unveiled its party list for the impending election. Notably, Bindra’s name was absent from the list, and his profile was removed from the party’s website.
A spokesperson from the New Zealand First party confirmed that Bindra had requested the withdrawal of his candidacy due to personal reasons. The spokesperson also mentioned that other former MPs were going through similar processes and expressed their support for the party.
Bindra had previously represented New Zealand First as a list MP from 2014 to 2017. He had also contested the Mt Roskill electorate in the 2011 election, securing fifth place. In 2014, Bindra received more votes and became a list MP, ranking 11th on the party list. However, in 2017, he was placed 10th on the list and did not retain a parliamentary seat. In the 2020 election, Bindra was positioned 12th on the list.
As the election approaches, New Zealand First faces uncertainty, with recent polls indicating that the party is hovering around the 5 percent threshold required to secure a seat in parliament.
The New Zealand First Party is unlikely to have any representation of Indian origin in the 54th Parliament, as no candidate has been ranked favourably on the party’s list.
On September 16, Party Leader Winston Peters released the list of the party’s candidates for the general election scheduled for October 14, 2023, almost simultaneously with the Election Commission’s publication of the comprehensive list of candidates from all political parties.
Notably, former Wellington Mayor Andy Foster has been placed seventh on the list and will be contesting the Mana seat in the Wellington Metropolitan area. However, Mahesh Bindra, who served one term as a List Member of the New Zealand First Party from 2014 to 2017, was conspicuously absent from the list.
Mr. Peters had previously introduced Bindra as the party’s candidate for Otahuhu-Panmure during the Electionlink launch, which was hosted by Indian Newslink on July 13, 2023, at the Swaminarayan Complex in Papatoetoe, South Auckland. Interestingly, the Otahuhu-Panmure electorate itself is missing from the party’s list, suggesting that Bindra’s omission may have been a last-minute change.
Anne Degia-Pala, the only candidate of Indian origin on the list, is placed 15th but faces an uphill battle to secure a parliamentary seat based on the party’s current polling, which hovers just above the 5% threshold.