12 Indian-origin candidates make entry into British Parliament

The prowess of Indian-origin candidates in the United Kingdom elections have been proved once again as record number of 12 of them have made entry into the hallowed portals of British Parliament. Britain today also got its first female Sikh and first turban-wearing MPs as the United Kingdom’s general election results began pouring in with Indian-origin Labour Party candidates winning more seats than their rival Conservatives.

UK gets its first female Sikh MP

First female Sikh Preet Kaur Gill won her Birmingham Edgbaston seat by polling 24,124 votes, defeating ruling Conservative party rival Caroline Squire by 6,917 votes.

Preet Kaur Gill has become the first female Sikh MP of British Parliament.
Preet Kaur Gill has become the first female Sikh MP of British Parliament. Photo courtesy: Facebook

Elated about winning the seat, Preet Gaur Gill said, “I am delighted I have been given the opportunity to become the next MP for Edgbaston where I was born and raised. I want to engage with the people of Edgbaston and with hard work, passion and determination I think we can achieve great things together.”

Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi visited Slough Gurudwara and sought blessings on his victory. Photo courtesy: Twitter
Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi visited Slough Gurudwara and sought blessings on his victory. Photo courtesy: Twitter

Another Labour candidate Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, better known as Tan, won his Slough seat decisively polling 34,170 votes, to become Labour’s first turban-wearing MP. He defeated his Conservative party rival by a whopping 16,998 votes. Dhesi said he was “humbled” and wanted to serve the town where he was born and raised. He also tweeted

While applauding the Labour Party for giving tickets to the Sikh community, Sikh Federation UK said in a statement, “Credit to the Labour Party leadership for taking the bold step of giving Sikhs the opportunity to fight for winnable seats. Labour now needs to turn its attention to having visible Sikh representation in the House of Lords at the first opportunity so Sikhs are better represented and can bring fresh thinking and ideas.”

However, a second turban-wearing Sikh of the Labour Party Kuldip Sahota was not so lucky as he lost out to his Conservative rival by just 720 votes.

Incumbent Indian origin MPs retain seat

Meanwhile, all other incumbent Indian origin MPs retained their seats. Conservative party’s Priti Patel has held on to her stronghold of Witham in Essex with a solid majority of 18,646 votes. Alok Sharma has held on to Reading West by 2,876 votes and Shailesh Vara has won in Cambridgeshire North West by 18,008 votes. However, Conservative’s Paul Uppal failed to retake Wolverhampton South West even though his share of the vote rose.

Indian origin candidates Virendra Sharma, Keith Vaz, Priti Patel and Alok Sharma retained their Parliamentary seat in the UK elections.
Indian origin candidates ( from left) Virendra Sharma, Keith Vaz, Priti Patel and Alok Sharma retained their Parliamentary seat in the UK elections.

Among other Indian-origin contestants, the 2015 general election first-timers for the Tories Rishi Sunak and Suella Fernandes have also held on to their seats decisively with a margin of 23,108 and 21,555 votes respectively.

Priti Patel thanked her voters to be re-elected and tweeted, "Honoured to be re-elected as Witham's MP. I will continue to work hard to represent all communities across the entire constituency."

The longest serving Indian-origin MP from Labour Party Keith Vaz held on to his Leicester East seat attracting 35,116 votes and his sister Valerie Vaz also won a solid 25,286 votes to hold on to her Walsall South seat.

Lisa Nandy won in Wigan for Labour with 29,575 votes, Seema Malhotra held on to Feltham & Heston with 32,462 votes and Virendra Sharma polled 31,720 in his safe seat of Ealing Southall.

However, among the prominent losses was Labour’s Neeraj Patil — the former mayor of the London Borough of Lambeth — lost to Justine Greening, the UK’s Education Minister. He lost by a margin of 1,554 votes to Greening, who was defending her Conservative party stronghold.

The Labour Party had selected 14 Indians and Conservative Party 13 as their parliamentary candidates. So far, the tally looks stronger for the Labour Party with seven Indian—origin MPs to Tory’s five.

Author
Ashraf Jamal
Ashraf Jamal – Senior Writer

Ashraf Jamal brings a rare depth to writing equipped with a degree in journalism, a postgraduate degree in political science, and a degree in law from the Allahabad University. His experience includes editing and publishing the Northern India Patrika and writing for Times of India for almost a decade covering just about any topic under the sun including NRIs and Indian diaspora.

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