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First turbaned Sikh and woman becomes Member Parliament in UK

June 09, 2017 05:03 PM
Labour's Preet Kaur Gill and Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi

LONDON: Britain on Friday got its first female Sikh MP and first turban-wearing MP as the UK general election results threw up a small increase in the number of Indian- origin MPs in the House of Commons.

"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," Sikh Federation UK said in a statement.



The latest tally indicates the Labour Party has improved its record from five to seven MPs, with the Tories retaining their five Indian-origin MPs taking the total number up from 10 in the 2015 general election to 12.

Labour's Preet Kaur Gill won her Birmingham Edgbaston seat by polling 24,124 votes, defeating her conservative Party rival by 6,917 votes.

"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," she said.

Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, 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.

He said he was "humbled" and wanted to serve the town where he was born and raised.

"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," Sikh Federation UK said in a statement.

A second turban-wearing Sikh, Labour's Kuldip Sahota, lost out narrowly to his Conservative party rival by just 720 votes.

Among some of the other Indian-origin contestant results, Conservative party's Priti Patel has held on to her stronghold of Witham in Essex with a solid majority of 18,646, 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.

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.

For the Labour party, the longest serving Indian-origin MP Keith Vaz held on to his Leicester East seat attracting 35,116 votes and his sister Valerie Vaz also won 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.

Among some of the prominent losses, Labour's Dr Neeraj Patil - the former mayor of the London Borough of Lambeth - lost to Justine Greening, the UK's education minister.

Labour MP elect Preet Kaur Gill


He lost by a margin of 1,554 votes to Greening, who was defending her Conservative party stronghold.

Paul Uppal, who was expected to regain Wolverhampton South West for the Tories, also lost out to his Labour rival.

Other Tory Indian-origin hopefuls - Rahoul Bhansali, Samir Jassal, Ameet Jogia, Resham Kotecha, Reena Ranger, Meera Sonecha and Minesh Talati - all lost out to Labour, as was predicted.

Among the remaining Labour party hopefuls - Rohit Dasgupta, Hitesh Tailor, Navin Shah, Navendu Mishra and Manjinder Kang - were also unable to make a dent and in most cases lost out to popular sitting MPs.

 The Labour Party had selected 14 and Conservative party 13 Indian-origin politicians as their parliamentary candidates.

 The Tories had come under attack for failing to put many in so-called winnable seats or in even in target seats, where the sitting MP had a small majority.

As the overall result of a hung Parliament in the UK general election becomes clear, Theresa May led Conservative party looks set to end with 319 MPs as opposed to Jeremy Corbyn led Labour's 261.

Neither party has managed to get close to the 326-MP mark required for an overall majority.

 

 

 

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