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London mayoral election: Second British-Indian throws hat in the ring

IANS | January 13, 2024 02:50 AM

LONDON: London may get its first Indian-origin mayor with finance and property broker Shyam Batra announcing his intent to run as an independent in the May 2024 election.

Batra (62) is the second British-Indian to throw his hat in the ring after investment banker Tarun Ghulati in the fast-growing group of contenders for this year’s election, looking to unseat Mayor Sadiq Khan, who is seeking re-election as a Labour candidate.

A resident of Uxbridge in west London, Batra told the BBC that he did not see himself as a "party political candidate", but rather as someone who "just wants to fix London and give people a voice".

Like Ghulati, his main priority, if elected, is to abolish the Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez) as well as the congestion zone and 20mph speed limits.

"I drive an old car and now when I drive into London I have to pay congestion and Ulez charges. It is a joke. You should not be charged for driving in your own city, " he told the BBC.

Some of his other priorities include, tackling the cost-of-living crisis and improving housing issues by introducing "a finance scheme to get everyone on the property ladder".

Stating that he is "passionate" about making London a better place, Batra said: "I know what the general public think and want because I am one of them. I am fed up myself and if I am mayor I won't take any nonsense."

So far, 12 candidates, including Batra, have reportedly declared their intent for the job, which Khan hopes to hold for an historic third term.

The list includes, Conservative Susan Hill, Liberal Democrat Rob Blackie, Reform UK's Howard Cox, Green Party's Zoe Garbett and Social Democratic Party's Amy Gallagher.

As nominations for the election are open until March 27, more candidate announcements are expected over the coming weeks.

The election is scheduled to be held on May 2, and will take place simultaneously with elections to the London Assembly and local elections across England and Wales.

While Mayoral elections are traditionally held every four years, voting was last held in 2021 instead of 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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