19-yr-old Punjabi-origin girl to make political debut in UK polls

  • Prasun Sonwalkar & Neetika Walter, Hindustan Times, London/Chandigarh
  • Updated: May 05, 2015 09:38 IST

Ealing Southall has long been a Labour stronghold, but one candidate who is taking on the Labour veteran Virendra Sharma is teenager Jaspreet Mahal, who will most probably lose her deposit but insists on giving it her best and getting her foot in the political door.

At a Meet Your Candidates event in Hanwell, Mahal was pitted against Sharma and other candidates, but managed to hold her own even if the community audience appeared to indulge her, given her age and the fact that it was her political debut.

Mahal is a candidate of the Green party, which has made major inroads in the middle-classes over the last year with its radical left-of-centre views. She responded confidently to tough questions from the audience on education health and environment.

What motivated her to enter electoral politics? She says, “I am just an ordinary student. I have not always wanted to be a politician. In fact, I used to hate politics.”

“However, the government has forced students like me to stand up and take notice. The government has neglected us and has implemented policies leading to cut in youth services, low employment and high debt upon leaving universities.”

“I jumped into politics when the realisation dawned that ordinary people need to take back power from career politicians,” she adds.

A candidate needs a deposit of £500 to contest. Mahal organised the amount through a crowdsourcing website.

Another Indian-origin candidate from the constituency making news is Kavya Kaushik of the Liberal Democrats. Daughter of a BBC journalist, she got the most applause for her feisty responses to questions from the audience.

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