UK General Election Result 2024: Prominent British Indians in the fray | World News

British Indians

There’s a distinct desi flavour in the upcoming UK General Elections in which Rishi Sunak, the United Kingdom’s first non-white Prime Minister hopes to stave off defeat for the Tories after 14 years in power. The misadventure that started with the Brexit referendum saw a procession of Tory PMs, each with progressively diminishing popularity. David Cameron was followed by Theresa May, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss before Rishi Sunak took over in October 2022.
Keir Starmer, who has steered the ship after the disastrous Corbyn era, will hope that Labour can finally return to 10 Downing Street, and he will become the first Labour Prime Minister since Gordon Brown.

The election is being held today on July 4, a day when the US got its Independence from the British. The outgoing House of Commons had 15 Indian-origin MPs and the number is set to increase. A total of 107 British-Indian candidates are in the fray for the 680 seats in UK General Election 2024. British-Indian households lead in high-income brackets with 42% earning GBP 1000+ weekly in 2015-18. Despite comprising 3.1% of the UK, they contribute over 6% to GDP. Here are some key candidates to watch out for:

A record 107 British Indians in the fray…

Tory Candidates

1) Rishi Sunak (Richmond and Northallerton)

Most of Rishi Sunak’s problems in the Tory party are inherited but that doesn’t mean he is particularly popular. Questions have been raised about his wife not paying enough taxes which did lead to a hilarious exchange when one gentleman said he won’t be paying taxes because Labour wanted to tax condoms. It later emerged that the gentleman had confused ‘condoms’ with ‘non-doms’, the phrase used to refer to non-doms (non-domiciles) like Rishi Sunak’s wife Akshatha Murthy.
Sunak is often in the eye of the storm for his marriage to Akshatha Murthy, whose father NR Narayana Murthy is the founder of Infosys. He faces off against Tom Wilson, a 29-year-old Labour candidate who hopes to become the electoral kingslayer and become the first person to defeat a sitting Prime Minister in a general election. Sunak ended his campaign by meeting Britain’s most tattooed woman and by revealing that his favourite food is sandwich, specifically a club sandwich, with some chips and coke.

2) Priti Patel (Witham in Essex)

The daughter of Ugandan-Indian immigrants, Priti Patel is hoping to hold down her seat of Witham in Essex. The former Home Secretary was one of the flying stars under the David Cameron regime who has seen her star falter though the former PM did step in to campaign for her recently. Johnson’s team clarified the video should not be construed as a comment on any support for a post-election Tory leadership contest. In his message, Johnson called her an “original Brexiteer” and a driving force of “the Rwanda scheme” that Johnson called the best hope of “stopping cross-Channel gangs from bringing people into our country”.
Patel is often held up as an example of an immigrant who has been co-opted by the establishment and now opposes the same benefits that were given to her family. Earlier, The Guardian was lambasted for a cartoon that depicted Priti Patel as a cow which was seen as an attack on her ethnicity and faith.

3) Suella Braverman (Fareham and Waterlooville)

The former interior minister appears to have already thrown in the towel ahead of the election saying the writing was on the wall and the Tories were likely to lose and must prepare for life in the opposition. Braverman also urged the Conservatives to “return” to the right and warned that their position was being usurped by Nigel Farage’s Reform UK.
Braverman was replaced by James Cleverly as interior minister in the last re-shuffle of the last Sunak cabinet. She had courted controversy after suggesting that the Metropolitan Police were too lenient with pro-Palestine protesters.

4) Dr Neil Shastri-Hurst (Solihull West and Shirley)

Among the Tories’ new faces is Dr Neil Shastri-Hurst, whose parents worked in the NHS and who has served as a Medical Officer. He worked as a surgeon in the NHS, but a peripheral neuropathy made him swap a surgical career for a legal one and he became a barrister specialising in healthcare-related law. His main challenger is Julian Knight, a former Conservative MP of Solihull now fighting as an Independent. The Solihull West and Shirley was created as a result of the 2023 Periodic Review of Westminster constituencies.

5) Dr Reva Gudi (Feltham and Heston)

Another new Tory face is Dr Reva Gudi from Hillingdon, West London who has served as an NHS GP for 20 years. She was also the school governor for a local school. A proud Hindu, she said she is inspired by the Bhagavad Gita. She said in a video message: “I have found the message of the Bhagavad Gita, highlighting the letting go of ego, detachment and service without any desire for the fruits of action, have helped me navigate this journey making it for the most part very enjoyable.”

She is up against Seema Malhotra, the Labour and Co-operative candidate, who has served the constituency since 2011.

6) Nupur Mazumdar (Lewisham North)

A first-generation immigrant, Nupur Majumdar is proud to call herself a British citizen. She graduated from Delhi University and runs multiple businesses. She said: “Deeds are so much more important than words, and that means working across Lewisham North to make sure that you and your family’s lives are improved and made better. I was not born in a traditional Conservative family. I chose to be one based on my life’s experiences because the Conservative Party fuels aspirations and values diversity and inclusion.” She faces an uphill battle in a Labour stronghold against Vicky Foxcroft who won the Lewisham Deptford constituency that was re-established as Lewisham North.

7) Eric Sukumaran (Southgate And Wood Green)

Eric Sukumaran hopes to become the first person of Malayali origin to sit in the House of Commons. Raised in northeast London, he is from Varkala. He told The New Indian Express: “My maternal grandfather, Narayanan Viswambaran, arrived in England on July 20, 1969, the same day that man first walked on the Moon! He had very little in terms of possessions, and just two generations later, his grandson is running for parliament. I have always wanted to contribute to this country that gave my family so much. I am a Conservative because I believe in its core principles of individual freedom, respect for tradition and the constitution, and the belief in business as the driver of prosperity.”
A renewable energy entrepreneur, he is also a former civil servant who has worked at the World Bank as well. The constituency was created from Enfield Southgate, Hornsey and Wood Green, and Tottenham.

8) Shivani Raja (Leicester East)

The fight in Leicester East has a host of heavyweights in the fight including former MPs Claude Webbe and Keith Vaz contesting as Independents.
The Tories have picked Shivani Raja, a Leicester-born who studied in the city at Herrick Primary, Soar Valley College, Wyggeston and Queen Elizabeth II college. She also graduated with First Class Honours in Cosmetic Science from De Montfort University (DMU). A Conservative spokesperson said: “Shivani is deeply committed to charitable work, which includes supporting communities in India, animal welfare in Africa, as well as working in local food banks to serve our people of Leicester. She also hosts a monthly inclusive disco event for adults with physical and learning disabilities.”

Labour Candidates

9) Warinder Juss (Wolverhampton West)

A senior personal injury lawyer with Thomsons Solicitors, Warinder Juss has campaigned to save local pubs by giving them the right to buy them and to stop “going to the highest bidder”. He wrote on Facebook: “Labour plans to give local communities like ours a strong ‘right to buy’ a local when it faces closure. This would stop pubs that are closing or would otherwise just be sold to the highest bidder.”

He also campaigned in the local gurudwara in both English and Punjabi and is a form of Dr BR Ambedkar. He said while speaking at his 133rd birth anniversary: “To achieve social reform we also need to exercise political power.”

10) Preet Kaur Gill (Birmingham Edgbaston)

Representing a constituency that sent Neville Chamberlain to the House of Commons, she has represented the constituency since 2017. In 2023, she was embroiled in a conspiracy when grassroot Labour supporters accused her of “undermining Sikh victims of sexual violence”.
Sikh members told Labour that Gill sent a series of messages on a WhatsApp group that doubted allegation of sexual abuse within gurudwaras. The most senior Sikh leader in Parliament, she was seen as allying with conservative members of the community while alienating more moderate Sikhs.
She was also accused of having links to Khalistani groups and posed with Keir Starmer in front of a gallery of Sikh separatists including Labh Singh, former leader of the Khalistan Commando Force and Sukhdev Singh Babbar, who had links to the Air India flight bombing in 1985. Labour had rejected any ill-will and said in a statement: “Preet is not responsible for the wall displays of any gurdwara and does not recognise several of the names you have listed or know of their backgrounds.”

11) Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi (Slough)

The first turbaned member of the House of Commons, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi’s father Jaspal Dhesi was the president of UK’s largest Gurudwara. Dhesi has been vocal about several issues that irked New Delhi including the farmers’ protest and article 370. He has said in the past that “human rights are a universal issue” and that it was sad that Sikhs who raised their voices were labelled “Khalistanis”. Dhesi incidentally spoke at Referendum 2020 that was organised by Sikhs for Justice, an organisation banned in India.
When he came to India in 2021, he found out his Overseas Card of India card had been cancelled. He had written then: “Even for an MP who is constantly wishing and working for the betterment of #Punjab, #India and the wider #subcontinent, I guess that’s the price to pay for standing in solidarity with farmers, the marginalised and minorities like #Sikhs.”

12) Lisa Nandy (Wigan)

The daughter of academic Dipak Nandy and Ann Luise Byers, she became a Labour MP in 2010. Incidentally, her father considers her right wing. Her maternal grandfather Lord Byers used to be the Leader of the Liberals in the House of Lords. Nandy challenged for the Labour leadership in 2020 and came in third behind current leader Keir Starmer and Rebecca Long-Bailey.

13) Seema Malhotra (Feltham and Heston)

It’s a full desi showdown in Feltham and Heston where Labour’s Seema Malhotra, a four-time MP who was first elected in 2011. Malhotra is up against Dr Reva Gudi, a Tory candidate. One of the most prominent faces in Labour, Malhotra, as a 15-year-old, when she was asked what wound her up, she chose the topic “Margareth Thatcher”. Lamenting about the “14 years of decline of education” under the Tories, Malhotra believes devolution will be crucial to filling skills gaps. Among the promises is a national body called “Skills England” and one can expect her to get an important cabinet seat when Labour comes back to power. Malhotra told the New Statesman that “collaboration between industry and government will be vital to her brief”.

14) Gurinder Singh Josan (Smethwick)

The first Sikh member to be elected to Labour’s governing body the national executive committee (NEC), he is a Corbyn-sceptic who has come into his own under the Starmer leadership. Fellow Labour Sikh leader Tan Dhesi had called his elevation a “watershed moment for the British Sikh community”. A trustee of HOPE Not Hate charitable trust, he is also a former trustee of Guru Nanak Gurdwara, Smethwick and serves as a governor for three schools. In 2019, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2019, the third highest order.

15) Kanishka Narayan (Vale of Glamorgan)

Kanishka Narayan hopes to become the first Indian-origin MP of Wales. Narayan was born in India and moved to Cardiff when he was 12. He got into Eton on a scholarship, went on to study at Oxford and then Stanford before becoming a civil servant. Pegged as a rising star in the Labour ecosystem, he said he joined the party because of a “passion for social mobility”.

16) Sonia Kumar (Dudley)

An NHS therapist, she called the Labour nomination the “honour of her life”. She was the subject of a dog-whistle attack two weeks before the election, when Marco Longhi her Conservative rival sent out a letter to the “the British Pakistani/Kashmiri community in Dudley” highlighting Kumar’s surname while claiming he was at the forefront of “speaking against the Indian government atrocities towards people of Kashmir”.
Kumar, who is Sikh, said she was disappointed and shocked by the letter and that it was “unacceptable” to “imply that she would stand up for her constituents because of her religion and heritage”. Fellow Labour candidate Rajesh Agarwal (Leicester East) said the letter was shameful and “offensive” to both Muslims and Hindus.

17) Praful Nargund (Islington North)

Islington North, the Greater London constituency is the home of Arsenal and Praful Nargund is a huge fan. An entrepreneur who was also a councillor in a constituency that has a small “Left demographic”. In 2016, only 21% of the constituency voted in favour of Brexit. Standing against former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is contesting as an Independent, he wrote when he was nominated: “It’s an honour to have been chosen as Labour’s candidate for Islington North and I look forward to the campaign ahead. I promise to be a truly local MP, that represents all families and businesses that call this special place their home. Only Labour can change the country and fix 14 years of Tory failure.”
Earlier, he worked as Chief Executive of a company called ABC IVF that was founded by his mother Geeta.

18) Jas Athwal (Ilford South)

Born in Punjab, India, Jas Athwal’s family moved to England when he was seven. His mother worked at home sewing ties while his father worked at a tin factory. In May 2018 borough council elections, Athwal secured 51 of the 63 seats for Labour.
Athwal was in line to be the Labour candidate of Ilford South in 2019 before he was suspended after allegations of sexual harassment. Instead, a candidate close to Jeremy Corbyn was selected. Wes Streeting, a neighbouring MP, had described the events as an “undemocratic stitch up”. He was later cleared of wrongdoing and his suspension was lifted.

19) Baggy Shanker (Derby South)

Baggy Shanker, the leader of the Derby City Council was recently removed after a motion of no confidence was passed against him. Shanker called it political opportunism to simply remove him before the general election. Shanker’s father came to Derby in the 1950s and worked in a foundry, and Shanker says his father’s role made him inspired to help immigrants.
He was backed to be MP for Derby South by former MP Margaret Beckett who is Britain’s longest-serving MP and served Derby South since 1983. He had written in his website: “We’ve had a trusted advocate in Margaret Beckett for almost 40 years, she named me as the best person to be Derby South’s next trusted Member of Parliament and take the fight on behalf of the people of Derby South to Westminster. It’s time for Labour to be in Government, bring respect back to our country, sort out our economy and look after every person.”

20) Satvir Kaur (Southampton Test)

Another rising star, Satvir Kaur became involved in politics in 2010 after meeting local MP John Denham. On joining politics, she had said: “I realised you, as an individual, can be part of something bigger and make a meaningful change.” Kaur says her priority would be housing and at the Labour conference in 2022, she was charged with introducing Starmer. In 2016, she campaigned for Hillary Clinton. She was the first female Sikh leader of a local authority in Britain when she became Leader of the Southampton City Council from 2022 to 2023. She subsequently stepped down from her role to focus on the general election.

21) Harpreet Uppal (Huddersfield)

Harpreet Uppal hoped to become Huddersfield’s first female MP and was picked after Barry Sheerman said he wouldn’t stand for re-election. She currently works for Debbie Abrahams and says she has learned a lot from her. She has also worked with the NHS and is quite excited about the election saying: “I would say go for it and believe in yourself. If you told 12 year old me, the nervous, shy kid who found it difficult to talk in a crowded room, that I would be here now, I would never have believed it.”

22) Rajesh Agrawal (Leicester East)

Another desi candidate in the Royal Rumble of Leicester East, Rajesh Agrawal will be hoping to bring it home. In 2019, Rajesh Agrawal had spoken up against the Labour Manifesto’s language to describe Kashmir and had written: “As the co-chair of the Labour Friends of India, I am clear that abrogation of article 370 of the Indian constitution is a matter for Indian parliament. It is not for Britain or the Labour Party to intervene. As a party of government, the Labour Party must work to build on the decades old friendship with India and the Indian community in the UK. Glad to see that the Labour Party recognises that the language in the recent motion on Kashmir was unhelpful.”
23) Nadia Whittome (Nottingham East)
Nadia Whittome, the youngest MP in the House of Commons at one point caused outrage when she claimed that Rishi Sunak’s elevation as Prime Minister wasn’t a win for “Asian representation”. In a tweet that was deleted after discussion with Labour whips, she had also posted: “Black, white or Asian: if you work for a living, he is not on your side.”
Whittome identifies as queer and was Pink News’ politician of the year in 2020. She only claims £35,000 of the £81,932 salary, the rest of which she donates to various charities. She said after winning in 2019: “It’s so weird. I have enormous privilege now. But I was elected to be a worker’s representative and it’s the reason I gave away my salary and took a worker’s wage. I think it’s important for me not to be on a wage that materially vastly separates me from my constituents, though, I do earn quite a bit more than the average person in Nottingham.”
She has been vocal about her stance on social justice and said: “We should be unequivocally, unapologetically and actively against antisemitism, Islamophobia, anti-Blackness, other forms of racism”

Other Parties

24) Keith Vaz (Leicester East)

Party: Leicester One

Standing as a Leicester One candidate, Keith Vaz has had a particularly colourful career as an MP whose scandals have included allegations of paying for male escorts at his London flat. He was born in Yemen and his parents came from Goa. Interestingly, Vaz also happens to be a relative of Saint Joseph Vaz, though his career hasn’t been particularly saint-like. In 1989 (when he was the first Asian MP since 1929), he led a march asking for Salman Rushdie’s

The Satanic Verses

to be banned. Vaz’s list of controversies is long but he has also been called “the most incredible networker” by former Lord Chancellor Irvine. To buttress the point, a piece in The Independent noted: “…a party thrown to celebrate his 25 years as an MP was attended by some of the most influential names in the country, including Theresa May, Tony Blair, Ed Milliband and police chief Bernard Hogan-Howe.” Keith Vaz will be hoping that he can still pull the rabbit out of the hat when needed.

25) Mohamed Hanif Alli (Bolton North East)
Party: Green Party

Hanif Ali, the first Green Party councillor for Halliwell wants to become Bolton’s first Green MP. The son of first-generation immigrants, his father came to England after seeing an advertisement for workers in cotton mills, in 2002 he won the council’s central ward on a Labour ticket. Today, he believes, Labour under Keir Starmer is indistinguishable from the Tories. Alli’s election leaflets prominently focusses on Gaza and has an image of “Permanent Ceasefire Now” along with the image of a Palestinian flag.

He had said: “The Gaza war is huge on the agenda at the moment, as you know. Both of the major main parties weren’t calling for an immediate ceasefire, and the sale of weapons has still not stopped. The Gaza/Palestine issue did play a big factor in this, but I also think a big factor is people were looking for change.”
26) Anita Prabhakar (Nottingham East) Liberal Democrat
Anita Prabhakar, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Nottingham East, is a qualified solicitor. According to the LibDem website, Prabhakar has a master’s degree in constitutional law from Bengaluru and corporate law from Nottingham Trent University. Prabhakar believes each child in the UK deserves the best education and has been an active member of the LibDem party. She is also a member of the Rights, Liberty and Justice, a LibDem’s Lawyer Association.
She is up against Nadia Whittome of Labour who won in 2019 and became the youngest MP at 23 in 2019.

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