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'Indian Culture Guides Me': Sole Indian-Origin Candidate in London Mayoral Polls

Most polls conducted across the UK say that the race is primarily between two candidates: Sadiq Khan and Susan Hall.

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South Asians
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After Rishi Sunak's historic elevation to the position of prime minister of Britain, another Indian-origin individual is hoping to create a watershed moment in the UK's political history.

Tarun Ghulati, a Delhi-born entrepreneur, is running as an independent candidate in the London mayoral elections, due to be held on Thursday, 2 May. "I feel upbeat and believe I will win. I have the blessings of different communities including, of course, the Indian diaspora," Ghulati, 63, said in an exclusive interview with The Quint.

Ghulati, however, has his work cut out for him. Most polls conducted across the UK say that the mayoral race is primarily between two candidates: the Labour Party's Sadiq Khan, who has held the post of mayor since 2016, and Susan Hall of the Conservatives.
Most polls conducted across the UK say that the race is primarily between two candidates: Sadiq Khan and Susan Hall.

Tarun Ghulati with a supporter in London.

(Photo: Facebook/Tarun Ghulati)

Ghulati, who was born in Delhi, spent the first 35 years of his life in India before moving to London. If he wins, he will be the first person hailing from India to become the mayor of London.

The father of two says that his greatest advantage in the polls among the 13 candidates in the fray is that he does not come from a political background – and can manage the city's administration like a "seasoned CEO".

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'Proud of My Indian Background'

After graduating from the University of Jaipur and Delhi University, Ghulati worked at HSBC and Citibank – roles which took him across West Asia, Africa, the Asia Pacific, and the UK. However, he says that his roots are grounded in India.

"I'm proud to have been born in India and to be a person of Indian origin," he says. "While India is my janmabhoomi, the UK is my karmabhoomi."

Ghulati says that his family have been involved in public betterment since the 19th century, and the prime reason behind his decision to take the political plunge was the guidance enshrined by his family heritage.

"My ancestors co-founded Punjab National Bank, the second largest bank in India, along with some smaller banks. We gave undivided Punjab its first agriculture minister," he said, adding, "It's in my blood – for me it's all about the people."

Ghulati says that not only is he proud of Indian culture, but also the economic transformation of the country over the years. "I believe India will be the number one economy in the next 20 years," he says.

The businessman-turned-politician, who has a shadow cabinet in place, says that he is confident of victory as long as people from different communities come out to vote in large numbers on 2 May.

"I believe in taking all communities along. I am a proud Hindu, and my roots teach me Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam [the world is one family]."

Most polls conducted across the UK say that the race is primarily between two candidates: Sadiq Khan and Susan Hall.

Tarun Ghulati (centre) at Southall's Shree Ram Mandir.

(Photo: Facebook/Tarun Ghulati)

"Politicians have blurred the vision for London. The incumbent mayor has set London behind by eight years," Ghulati said in a dig at Pakistani-origin politician Sadiq Khan.

"Security is at an all-time low, crime is up by about 54 percent, and over a thousand murders have been committed in the last eight years while Khan was mayor," he claimed.

Metropolitan Police estimates in January show 1,008 homicides have been recorded since 2016, according to Daily Mail. Figures suggest 110 murders were recorded by the police in 2023 – broadly in line with 2022. That’s down from a peak of 153 in 2019 – and is also lower than the 120 recorded in 2015.

In the same breath, Ghulati called the recent alleged vandalisation of the Indian High Commission in London 'disappointing'.

"I was heartbroken when some pro-Khalistani elements pulled down the Indian flag from the Indian High Commission in London," he told The Quint, adding, "As mayor I will deal with such disorder sternly."

However, he cautioned, "I hear some noises every now and then over the Khalistan issue, but I feel it isn’t as bad here as people and the media portray it to be.”

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An Uphill Battle at the Polling Booth

According to a poll conducted by Queen Mary University of London and published on Monday, 29 April, Sadiq Khan has a 13-point lead over Susan Hall. The poll found that if the election were to be held tomorrow, 46 percent of the 1,038 adults interviewed would vote for Khan and 33 percent for Hall.

A YouGov survey published last week had also predicted that Khan and Hall are the main contenders in the race and gave the former an upper hand.

Ghulati, however, dismissed the polls over their relatively small sample size.

"Some people feel that they need to vote for a particular party rather than an independent candidate. They must understand that this isn't a general election," he told The Quint.

Ghulati's campaign pledge includes doing away with many of Khan's purportedly "unpopular" policies – such as the expansion of the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ).

The ULEZ was introduced by Khan in 2019 in a bid to reduce pollution. According to the policy, vehicles not meeting emission standards will have to pay a daily charge of £12.50 to drive within the zone.

Further, Ghulati has assured voters that he will look into the welfare of the police force.

"I will hire more policemen who come from diverse backgrounds and share cultured nuances of different communities. I will also into their remuneration and also make them accountable on the basis of whether they are actually helping to reduce crime."
Tarun Ghulati to The Quint

In addition, Ghulati aims to set up specialised units – including one focused solely on the safety of women.

Free meals in schools, affordable housing, minimising council tax, and bringing in more investment flows into the capital city are some of the other pledges Ghulati has announced in his election manifesto.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Britain   London   United Kingdom 

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