LONDON – Britain has a second Punjabi-origin MP following Seema Malhotra’s victory on behalf of the Labour Party in the Feltham and Heston bypoll. Malhotra told The Tribune that she is a product of multi-cultural Britain, was born in the UK to an Indian-origin father and a mother who is a retired teacher.
After they came to the UK, her parents started a community shop in Hounslow. She is now one of the five NRI-origin MPs sitting in the UK House of Commons.
Her ancestors were from Multan, but her parents’ families settled in Jalandhar and Delhi and she still has relatives in Jalandhar. “Please let me know when you write about me so I can tell my relatives in Jalandhar,” she said.
Malhotra (39) secured a majority of 6,203 votes over the ruling Conservatives, a swing of 8.6%. She said she is one of the two Hindu MPs in the Commons, adding, “I would say that the Labour represents the whole of Britain, is much more diverse and has a greater commitment to equality and diversity.”
“My parents came to England in the 1960s with very little money. They are typical of many Asians who came here for a better life for their children,” she said.
Malhotra grew up in the Feltham area, close to London’s Heathrow airport. She was active in local politics from a young age and was an adviser to Labour’s Harriet Harman, when she was the leader of the Opposition in 2010.
Conservative critics point out that the turn-out for the Feltham and Heston bypoll was unusually low at 28.8%, the lowest in a bypoll in 11 years.
The chair of the Conservatives, Pakistani-origin Baroness Warsi, commented, “I am concerned about the level of political engagement. It can’t be right that on 12,000 votes, a constituency can be won.” She added, “Byelections generally have low turn-outs at this time of year, when it’s cold and just before Christmas and people are thinking of other things.”
The Liberal democrats came third in the bypoll with deputy leader Simon Hughes commenting, “What happened here was what normally happens in a byelection. People protest against the government, so government parties take a hit [and] the opposition normally moves forward.”
Seema Malhotra, 39, was born in the UK to an Indian-origin father and a teacher-mother, who is now retired
Her parents’ families settled in Jalandhar and Delhi and she still has relatives in Jalandhar
She is now one of the five NRI- origin MPs sitting in the House of Commons