The Conservatives took almost half of the votes cast in North Evington where the Labour candidate was accused of supporting India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
By: Shubham Ghosh
The Conservatives bagged a decisive victory in a Leicester council by-election on Thursday (13) as they snatched a seat from the Labour, who were pushed to the third spot in a place which was hit by the recent civil unrest.
Sanjay Modhwadia won the North Evington seat for the Tories who got almost half of the votes cast (49.6 per cent) with a 32.7 per cent swing in their favour.
It was a miserable show for Labour in a ward which was previously one of its strongholds as they managed only 22.5 per cent of the votes.
The Green Party clinched 25.8 per cent of the votes to finish second. The overall turnout in North Evington, a majority-Asian area which is dominated by the textile industry, was 45 per cent.
A fantastic canvass session this evening for Sanjay Modhwadia in North Evington.
It was great to be joined by @Rupert_Matthews and @Deepak_Bajaj #TeamLeicester pic.twitter.com/ompc39A2Ne
— City of Leicester Conservatives (@LeicesterTories) September 27, 2022
The by-election was triggered after the previous councillor — Vandevi Pandya of the Labour Party — resigned from the Leicester City Council in August.
The new councillor got 3,441 of the 6,692 ballots cast. He will now join councillors Luis Fonseca and Rashmikant Joshi — both from the Labour — in representing the ward.
The Conservatives now have two of the 54 positions on the council, following the defection of former Lord mayor Deepak Bajaj to the party and former Tory councillor Daniel Crewe’s decision to finish his term as an independent member.
Local Conservative leadership said the result was positive for its future there.
Richard Tutt, chairman of the Leicester branch of the Conservative Party, told LeicestershireLive, “Sanjay should be proud of winning on a platform of community cohesion and a strong vision for the future of North Evington.
“Just a few weeks ago, our city saw one of its darkest moments. Sanjay has united communities, as we have seen by last night’s result. Leicester is ready to see real change, and we are primed to challenge Labour across our city at the local elections next year,” he added.
Modhwadia, is a local businessman who campaigned on backing the city’s textile factories and also pushed for a ‘Made in Leicester’ brand to boost the city’s profile globally.
The Greens were also ecstatic after beating the Labour Party. Their candidate, Aasiya Bora, secured 1,790 votes.
Mags Lewis, their spokesperson, told LeicestershireLive the result proved that the Greens were still a key political player in Leicester.
“We’re hoping this is going to galvanise a lot more of our Green supporters to actually come forward and help us win seats,” she was quoted as saying.
She also said that the party was looking to change the seconds to firsts.
Rajul Tejura, who represented the Labour Party in the by-poll, received 1,563 votes. A spokesperson for his campaign said the outcome would serve as a wake-up call for the party locally and promised that it would make a comeback fighting in the full council elections next May.
“Obviously it’s a disappointing result compared to what we were expecting,” he said. “It is clear that the council and the elected representatives have to do more to deliver for the people if they really want their vote.
Tejura faced accusations that she is a supporter of India’s Hindu right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government. An image of her in front of a life-size cutout of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi at an event which she organised after her election win in 2019 was also widely circulated on social media, The Guardian reported.
Rajul Tejura a supporter of the RACIST RSS party is standing for election in the North Evington, Leicester Constituency in October for Labour. Please share and circulate to make this known!#Leicester #Labour #RSS #Hindutva pic.twitter.com/KRuP4TVmJJ
— Deen (@OnThatDeen) October 1, 2022
Her spokesperson denied the allegation saying Tejura was not a member or supporter of the BJP.
Muslim Engagement and Development, an advocacy group, had previously issued a statement saying it was concerned about Tejura’s candidature “during a period of heightened tension in the city” and urged the local Labour Party to reconsider the decision, The Guardian report added.
Tejura was also endorsed by disgraced former Leicester East MP Keith Vaz, who appeared on many of her campaign leaflets.
The Conservatives also witnessed a sharp swing of votes to their favour in a by-election held last year when Pandya took office.