Deepak Obhrai may be named to Canadian cabinet

May 12th, 2011 - 10:14 am ICT by IANS  

Toronto, May 12 (IANS) With Indo-Canadians voting for the ruling Conservative Party in large numbers in this month’s parliament elections, speculation has begun whether any Indian-origin MP will make it to the Canadian cabinet this time.

A record six Indo-Canadians have been elected to the 308-member parliament on the ruling party ticket, while all five Indian MPs of the opposition Liberal Party have lost this time.

As parliamentary secretary to the foreign affairs minister, Deepak Obhrai was the high-ranking Indo-Canadian in the last ministry.

With his election for the sixth time, many in the million-strong Indo-Canadian community want him to be elevated to the rank of a minister.

“It is payback time for the Conservative Party to make Obhrai or someone else as a full cabinet minister. The community has helped the ruling party snatch many important ridings (seats) from the Liberal Party in this election,” said a Conservative Party leader from Brampton here, requesting anonymity.

Kam Rathee, former president of the Canada-India Business Council, said he too hoped that Obhrai would be the Indian face in the new Canadian cabinet.

“Obhrai is the senior-most Indo-Canadian MP now and he has won with the largest number of votes. He deserves to be elevated as a minister. No other Indian -origin MP from the ruling party has that kind of standing.”

Lauding Obhrai’s role in deepening India-Canada relations, Rathee said, “The Conservative Party ought to recognise the contribution of the Indo-Canadians in voting for its candidates. I will be surprised if Obhrai is not made a minister this time.”

An Indian-origin corporate executive, who professed no political affiliations, said elevating Obhrai “will be a good news from the point of view of better business relations between India and Canada. I think he should be made at least a minister of state.”

Even a senior Indo-Canadian leader of the opposition Liberal Party said, “I think they may have to make someone of Indian-origin a minister, and Obhrai could be the one.”

But Obhrai said he was not bothered whether he is made a minister or not.

“I have nothing to say. As a parliament secretary, I am very happy with what we have done. Everybody cannot be made a minister. The prime minister always takes the right decisions. I have his ear,” Obhrai told IANS.

Ujjal Dosanjh, who belongs to the opposition Liberal Party, was the last Indian-origin cabinet minister from 2004-2006.

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at gurmukh.s@ians.in)

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