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June - July 2008


Navin Shah elected against the trend

by Bhupendra Gandhi

Labour’s defeat can only be described as a “Valentine Day Massacre”. So how come Cllr. Navin Shah, leader of the Labour Group in the Harrow Council bucked the trend and emerged triumphant against all odds?

If one is unable to answer this simple question, then surely some one is reading the wrong newspaper? It was the coverage of Navin Shah’s extensive work in the community, his experience and support Navin received from India Link and other ethnic newspapers that made all the difference, tilted the balance and came out victorious when Labour was losing ground on all fronts.

How can Navin lose when he received whole hearted support from prestigious publication like India Link where my interview with Cllr. Navin Shah was published, with some eye catching, colourful photographs with dignitaries that pleased the readers and made all the difference?

It must have come as a body blow to Cllr. Bob Blackman who was defending the seat he won so easily at the last election and was favourite to retain his seat when the country was turning Blue on all fronts.

I am not politically inclined and my participation in politics confines to writing in various news papers, especially in my favourite magazine India Link where I have my own column “From Far and Near”, a readers’ favourite, as it covers as wide a topic as one can imagine.

As Cllr. Navin is a good friend and the only Gujarati candidate with a reasonable chance to become a GLA Member, I felt duty bound to canvass on his behalf, to put a Gujarati in the GLA City Hall who would be an asset to our community.

When phoning to voters in our Queensbury Ward, the first answer I received was that, “Yes, we have read about Cllr. Navin Shah in India Link, Asian Voice and Gujarat Samachar and we would be definitely voting for him.” This speaks a volume for these publications and their power of persuasion.

The Conservative vote increased by 6:20% across all 14 first-past the post seats and Tories easily retained all the seats except Brent and Harrow where Navin triumphed.

Talking on phone to triumphant Cllr. Navin Shah next day, jubilant but tired and exhausted due to lack of sleep, he expressed his gratitude and heartfelt thanks to all who worked so hard on his behalf and promised to acknowledge their efforts and to fulfil commitments he has given to our community and the people of Brent and Harrow.

Navin attributed his victory to cross party support, especially from the Indian community and the army of personal followers. He promised to work tirelessly for all the people of Brent and Harrow, concentrating on his new job as the London Assembly Member and work in key priority areas like safety/crime, community cohesion, social housing, planning and urban regeneration, a few amongst his many qualities. His experience as a leader of the Harrow Council will stand him in good stead in dealing with Brent, Harrow and London wide issues.

Lastly I would like to congratulate Cllr. Navin Shah on behalf of the readers of this prestigious and popular publication who rang or emailed me requesting me to pass on their best wishes to Navin and a long lease at the City Hall. Good luck and best wishes from us all, especially from the readers of India Link.

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