Indian candidates shine, fade in British polls (Lead)

May 7th, 2010 - 4:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Sanjay Dutt London, May 7 (IANS) At least three Indian origin candidates, including veteran Keith Vaz, wrested victory in the closely contested British general election polls while some of their Labour colleagues bit the dust.
The three notable winners were Keith Vaz, Virendra Sharma and Marsha Singh. Amongst those who lost were Parmjit Dhanda and Manish Sood.

Vaz retained the Leicester East constituency for the Labour party by defeating Conservative candidate Jane Hunt and Liberal Democrat’s Ali Asghar.

Helped by celebs like filmstar Sanjay Dutt, he secured 53.8 percent of the vote in the constituency, which has a large population of South Asians.

Vaz, whose parents were from Goa and migrated to Britain in 1965, has been a member of parliament for Leicester East since 1987. On July 26, 2007, he was elected chairman of the influential Home Affairs Select Committee.

Virendra Sharma retained the Ealing Southall constituency by defeating another Indian origin candidate, Tory’s Gurcharan Singh.

While Sharma polled 22,024 votes, rival Conservative Gurcharan Singh got 12,733 votes and Liberal Democrat candidate Nigel Bakhai trailed at third position.

The others in the fray who lost badly were Green Party’s Suneil Basu, Christian Party’s Mehboob Anil and English Democrats’ Sati Chaggar, BBC reported.

Sharma was first elected as MP from Ealing Southall in July 2007 during a by-election, held after the death of the sitting Labour MP Piara Khabra.

Born in India, Sharma speaks fluent Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu apart from English. The grandfather of three came from India in 1968 and started out as a conductor on the 207 route.

He enrolled in the London School of Economics on a Trade Union Scholarship.

According to the 2001 census, the constituency has a high British Asian population - around 39 percent, the majority being of Indian origin.

People of Indian origin recorded yet another win when Marsha Singh emerged victorious in Bradford West seat by getting 18,401 votes.

He soundly beat Conservative’s Zahid Iqbal who polled 12,638 votes. Liberal Democrat candidate David Hall-Matthews was third.

Marsha Singh was first elected as MP for Bradford West in 1997. He is a member of the International Development Select Committee.

Born in India, he was educated at at Belle Vue Grammar and Loughborough University.

It was, however, not all good news for Indians in Britain.

Indian origin Labour candidate Manish Sood, who called his Labour party leader Gordon Brown “the worst prime minister”, lost badly in the Norfolk North West constituency.

Sood had hit out at Brown a couple of days before balloting. But the offensive did not help him in Thursday’s balloting. Sood got only 6,353 votes and finished third.

The seat was won by Conservative Henry Billingham who polled 25,916 votes while Liberal Democrat William Summers stood second.

Another Indian to lose was Parmjit Dhanda who failed to retain his Gloucester seat.

Dhanda lost to Conservative’s Richard Graham. It had been a close fight with Dhanda polling 17,847 votes while Graham beat him by getting 20,267 votes. Liberal Democrat’s Jeremy Hilton was third with 9,767 votes.

Dhanda had twice won from Gloucester - in 2001 and 2005. Gloucester is an area of diverse industry, including a huge ice-cream factory and a mixture of council and private housing.

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