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Labour retains Asian-dominated seats in UK bypoll

July 20, 2007 11:48 IST

Non resident Indian Labour candidate Virendra Kumar Sharma has won the Parliamentary byelection from United Kingdom's Ealing Southall constituency while the party's Phil Wilson won from Sedgefield, giving a major boost to the image of new British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

In Ealing Southall, Sharma defeated his nearest Liberal Democrats nominee Nigel Bakhai by a margin of 5,070 votes -- down from 11,440 votes -- while in Sedgefield in County Durham, vacated by former prime minister Tony Blair, Labour's nominee Phil Wilson won by 6,956 votes -- down from 18,449 at the general election in 2005.

In both constituencies, the Conservative party candidates finished third and in Sedgefield, the Liberal Democrats edged them out from the second position.

The Ealing Southall byelection in west London was triggered by the death of the UK's oldest Member of Parliament Piara Singh Khabra, an NRI, at the aged of 82.

Sharma said his victory had been due to "policies" and "not slick PR."

"We never took this area for granted and we will never take this area for granted," he said.

Conservative candidate Tony Lit, an NRI businessman, said: "A race that's always been a one-horse race is no longer a one-horse race."

Supporters of Labour party said Lit had tried to inject "defection politics" into Ealing Southall and tried to divide the NRI communities, mostly Hindus and Sikhs on the lines of religion.

The Tories won an early boost with the defection of five Labour councillors to the Conservatives.

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