From healing the city of Leicester in the wake of shock riots last year to bolstering the future of UK-India ties, this exclusive interview covered a wide range of topics as the hard-working politician gears up for a general election expected next year.
How do you think you can unify the community in Leicester East, which has seen a lot of riots and uncertainty last year?
Well, Leicester has always been a beacon of community harmony and cohesion. What happened last year was out of character for Leicester, and I want to bring all the communities together. I'll listen and reach out to every single community in Leicester.
I believe that communities in Leicester feel that they've not been heard, so I want to be their voice. I want to listen to them and make sure that all people in Leicester feel that Leicester is a city which is for them, and that's the most important thing.
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How is your campaign going so far?
It has been brilliant. It's still early days. We don't know when the next general election is going to be, but we know it's going to be in 2024. The response from the communities have been absolutely phenomenal. I have been the deputy Mayor of London for Business for the last nearly eight years. I've got a proven track record. I've worked with all different communities. I'm very proud to be the first Hindu Deputy Mayor of London, working alongside the first Muslim Mayor of London. I went to a Catholic school. I live in a Jewish neighbourhood in London. It's all about working with different communities.
As deputy mayor in last eight years, I've done huge amounts. I've created hundreds of thousands of new jobs, brought billions of pounds in foreign investment, and improved the working conditions of hundreds of thousands of Londoners. I want to bring those successes to Leicester East. That's what I've been putting forward in my campaign. It is still early days, but the response has been absolutely overwhelming for me.
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How do you view Labour’s overall chances in the next general election?
Well, I believe that people are sick and tired of the incompetence of the Tory government in the last thirteen years. If you look at things like our public services, the NHS - people can't get GP appointments. There are super long queue for hospital appointments. You look at the inflation, you look at the policing and crime.
Pretty much every public service is down, the inflation so high, people are struggling to pay the bills. People want a change. I think this country is ready for a change, and Labour is the answer to a lot of these challenges.
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What made you join the Labour Party?
I share the values that the Labour Party. I believe that the vast majority of people of my background share those values with the Labour Party. I believe in equality of opportunities. I, myself, grew up in poverty in India, and it's because of the good education that I was given that I am where I am. Frankly, that has a big role to play in that.
The values of social justice are hugely important to me, and so is working with all communities. Those are the values I share with Labour, which is why I joined. It has been many years since I first joined Labour, and I believe that the country is now ready for a change and ready for the next Labour government.