Gujarati descent businesswoman, Shivani Raja becomes the sole Conservative to win seat from Labour


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29-year-old businesswoman of Gujarati descent, Shivani Raja, secured the Leicester East seat for the Conservative Party, breaking the Labour Party’s 37-year grip on the constituency. Raja was the sole conservative (Tory) contender to win a seat from the Labour Party in the UK’s July 4 election.

Shivani Raja won the election with 14, 526 votes, beating Rajesh Agrawal, the ex-deputy mayor of London and Labour Party candidate of Indian descent, who received 10,100 votes. The win was unexpected since Leicester East has consistently been under Labour control since 1987. This is the first instance in 37 years that the electorate has chosen a Conservative candidate in the constituency. The victory was the only success for the Conservatives in a night where Labour achieved a huge win, ending Conservative control and causing UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to step down. Labour secured more than 410 seats, as the Conservatives saw their seat count drop to only 121.

According to the reports, in 2022, Leicester experienced clashes between Hindu and Muslim communities following a dispute that arose during a cricket match between India and Pakistan on 28 August. Leicester East had not voted for a Conservative MP in almost forty years, but Raja was elected to the House of Commons in the 2024 general election, reversing the trend.

Webbe secured victory in the 2019 election by obtaining 25,090 votes, holding onto a lead of 6,019 votes. Raja’s victory represents a major change in the political landscape of Leicester East during a larger Labour triumph. Both Webbe and Vaz have been surrounded by controversy during their political careers. In 2021, Webbe was found guilty of tormenting a romantic competitor. Her bid for election in 2022 was not successful, leading her to campaign as an independent following her removal from the Labour Party. Vaz, who had held the seat since 1987, was kicked out of the Labour Party recently for planning to run against their candidate in his old constituency for One Leicester.

Raja’s parents moved to Leicester in the late seventies from Kenya and India, settling in Rushey Mead in Leicestershire. She earned a degree in Pharmaceutical and Cosmetic Science from De Montfort University and went on to work with various prominent cosmetics companies in England after graduating.

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