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A truck driver’s son, now a British MP

india Updated: Dec 13, 2009 22:35 IST
Rajesh Priyadarshi
Rajesh Priyadarshi
Hindustan Times
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Young British MP Parmjit Dhanda is an ardent fan of the Indian cricket team.

“I love (it), but for a person born to Indian parents, brought up in Southhall watching the Indian team play, it is natural to support the Indian team in action,” Dhanda tells BBC Hindi.

Dhanda’s parents migrated from Punjab to London in the 1960s. In 2001, at the age of 28, Dhanda won the elections from Gloucester in southwest to enter the House of Commons as a Labour Party representative.

Dhanda received attention after he threw his hat in the ring for the speaker’s job in the British parliament in June.

For someone with just two parliamentary terms behind him, contesting for the speaker’s position was a daring act.

“I knew that I stood no chance of winning the post. But, I wanted to win the debate, which I did, if I were to go by the opinions of most MPs soon after,” confides Dhanda.

Dhanda’s affiliation with the Labour party began when he was 18. Bagging the Labour ticket to contest from Gloucester was an emotional moment for him. “I pinched my arm to reassure myself that this was true. I rang up my parents... I could even hear my mother crying in the background.”

He silenced his critics by winning two consecutive elections from Gloucester. “The residents of Gloucester showered me with affection and accepted me in much the same way as Indians accepted Sonia Gandhi,” he said.

He is appreciative of the hardship his parents endured. “My father was a truck driver and my mother used to mop floors at Ealing hospital,” he says.

He recalls, “My mother was approached by people from the trade union. They believed that she was an ideal candidate to fight for labour welfare and rights issues. They coached her and improved her English-speaking skills. I think that was my political initiation.”

In 1990s, his father’s accident while driving a truck, prompted Dhanda’s decision to enter politics and take up the immigrant workers’ cause.

Dhanda plans to visit his ancestral village Chaheru in Punjab. “The road in Chehru village is lined by trees on both sides; many of which were planted by my father before he left. These trees symbolically remind me of my roots,” he concludes.