“A good GP but not a good enough MP,” say Hamiltonians

Praneeta Mahajan

Praneeta Mahajan

Hamilton, September 15, 2022

Differing public opinions on Dr Gaurav Sharma

                               Like any politician, Dr Gaurav Sharma has supporters and adversaries (RNZ Photo by Angus Dreaver)

Our report on former Labour and current Independent MP Dr Gaurav Sharma (Indian Newslink, September 1, 2022) received passionate responses from readers, prompting us to present the details of our interactions with members of the community.

Some of them have known him well as a General Practitioner in Hamilton West.

The opinions expressed were varied and as a media platform, we submit them for your consideration, contemplation and comment.

A changed man

Lance McCaughan, a popular photographer based in Hamilton has met Labour Party candidates in Hamilton and as such, known Dr Sharma well. As well as taking photographs, he has broadcast campaign speeches, public discussions and interviews on his online channels.

He said that Dr Sharma was always nice and respectful, came across as a person who would follow the rules as a  team player, which are basic requisites of any organisation.

Although he lacked experience in politics compared to his Hamilton East counterpart Jamie Strange, Dr Sharma campaigned well and became a good support candidate to carry the elections through at a time when the Labour stronghold was sweeping every part of the country.

Mr McCaughan recalled how “Gaurav was responsive and had many positive interactions with the community.”

But soon after becoming an MP, Dr Sharma’s trajectory changed, he said.

Mr McCaughan felt that perhaps a little more time to prepare for what was to come ahead would have helped Dr Sharma to avoid the recent unfortunate episode.

“There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding and confusion simply because it was perhaps too much, too soon,” he said.

Frustratingly inaccessible

Hailing from a family which has made a difference in the community over many years, Mr McCaughan expects his MP to discuss and debate on behalf of the constituents like Dr Sharma’s predecessor Tim Mcindoe (National Party) did for more than a decade.

“Dr Sharma is trained to have all the answers and offer solutions, whereas his political role required a slightly different approach. A better system of delegation would have left him free to interact with his constituents a lot more effectively,” he said.

Approachability became an issue with Dr Sharma, maybe because of a flawed system of operation, or inadequate support. Mr McCaughan said that his request for a post-election interview went repeatedly unanswered.

“This is a crucial point. As a Member of Parliament, a person should be available to the members of the public under all circumstances as that trust is hard to regain once lost,” he said.

Irritably irresponsive

Waikato Hospital Head of Coronary Intervention Dr Madhav Menon had a similar experience.

He said that he tried to contact Dr Sharma on a couple of occasions. In the first instance, he wanted a MIQ slot for a Senior Cardiologist since his services were urgently required. He received a polite email from his office but there was no follow-up.

“The second time I approached Dr Sharma was to seek support to raise funds for the District Health Board and Hospital. I expected the MP to support the initiative and motivate people to participate in the venture and make it a success. Despite several efforts, there was no response from Dr Sharma. We decided to abandon the project since there was no support,” he said.

A pleasant challenge

Community Leader Suman Kapoor agreed that reaching Dr Sharma was a challenge but said that her experience has been very pleasant.

“He is a kind and a well-spoken person who even offered his office for Senior Citizen’s yoga classes. Dr Sharma has always been professional and friendly. He has attended many Indian community events and his Clinic is very popular in the constituency,” she said.

Sana Maqsood of the Pakistani Community agreed.

A social worker in Hamilton, she recently organised a successful Tree planting Ceremony to commemorate the 75th Independence Anniversary of Pakistan and India.

“Dr Sharma visited our Mosque on various occasions and participated in many activities. If he is unable to attend, he will explain his circumstances,” she said.

Many DHB officials said that Dr Sharma was a regular visitor during the Covid-19 pandemic and find out if the hospital was sufficiently equipped.

Praneeta Mahajan lives in Hamilton and writes for Indian Newslink.

 

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