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BC Conservatives poached candidates from smaller party

The British Columbia Conservative Party appears to have poached two candidates who were previously announced as running for the even smaller BC Vision party.

The BC Conservatives announced on April 18 that Rajiv Pandey will run for them in Vancouver-Fraserview and on April 22 that Raj Gupta will run for them in Vancouver-Kensington.

BC Vision, a party that so far just has four official candidates listed with Elections BC, had previously listed both Pandey and Gupta on its website as running for them. And according to Bernard von Schulmann's BC Iconoclast website, Gupta was also previously registered with Elections BC as a BC Vision candidate.

A spokesperson for the BC Conservatives took questions about the party hopping, but did not respond by publication time.

"I need people who have integrity and (are) grounded," said Jag Bhandari, the leader of BC Vision, explaining why he no longer sees Pandey and Gupta as viable candidates.

Bhandari said the two had applied to be BC Vision candidates and wanted to run, but the BC Conservatives attracted them away by promising to pay for lawn signs. "They end up going there because of signs."

"We live in North America. Everyone can change their mind," said Bhandari, but added, "It's really strange . . . If you can flip for signs, what are you going to do for the riding?"

Bhandari said it's confusing to voters when candidates change parties. "You need to be connected to your cause, whatever you want to do."

BC Vision hopes to have at least 10 and as many as 15 candidates by the deadline for filing nomination papers with Elections BC, 1 p.m. on April 26. The party's platform includes managing the provincial budget without running a deficit, using technology to connect generations and encouraging intercultural exchange.

Both Gupta and Pandey are realtors. The BC Conservatives' announcement of Pandey's candidacy said, "Rajiv looks forward to bringing leadership to the Legislature, because he has always fought for the rights of individuals in order to help them reach their goals."

A spokesperson for Elections BC, Don Main, said that once someone is officially a candidate they may not switch parties, though they may run as being unaffiliated.

Updated, April 24, 9:22 a.m.: From Elections BC's Main: "Gupta filed nomination papers, including deposit, required signatures and BC Vision party endorsement with Elections BC as a BC Vision candidate. He then withdrew his nomination, and filed nomination papers, including deposit, signatures and BC Conservative party endorsement with Elections BC."

While he could not have switched parties keeping the original nomination, it is allowed since he totally withdrew, said Main. "He filed new papers, with new signatures, another $250 deposit and a new endorsement from the BC Conservatives."

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

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