There is an Indian-origin Prime Minister in Downing Street. And now Tarun Ghulati, an investment banker, wants to be the next most powerful Indian in London. Ghulati, originally from Delhi, has thrown the hat in the ring for London mayor as an independent candidate.
“The freedom of movement is as important as freedom of speech,’’ said Ghulati, who hopes to run on his ideas on dealing with transportation. In India, his “janmabhoomi’’, Ghulati chose to announce his candidature for the elections from Hyderabad recently. “I want to take advantageof the synergistic opportunities across all the nations whose diaspora call London home,’’ he said.
The contest for London mayor to be held in 2024 is a tough fight. There is the formidable Sadiq Khan who has won the elections twice. Khan is still a favourite. According to You Gov poll conducted for Queen Mary University of London in October Khan is 25 points ahead of Conservative challenger Susan Hall. Hall, if she wins, will be the first woman to lead London.
But Ghulati remains undaunted by the numbers. He believes he has a better chance, because he is an independent. “I am not daunted by bigger parties,’’ he said. “My volunteers won’t be forced. If they believe in me, they will sing from the same hymn sheets.” Their belief in him will push them to work harder for him. It will be a mission that they will push forward.
He is co-founder of the 21st Century Icon Awards in London and wants to use the strength of London’s financial architecture to help propel the city forward. He has also worked across the world and believes this will help him to overcome the challenges of the fight.“The number of Fortune 500 headquartered in London have reduced,’’ he said.
His plan includes scrapping the Ultra-Low Emission Zone and the congestion charges that Londoners really loathe over weekends and holidays. “I wish to see visible policing across all the boroughs and police stations restored where crime rates are high.’’
Beyond just his volunteers, Ghulati is hoping to tap into the living bridge that India is. During his visit to India, Ghulati has visited the Lord Balaji mandir in Hyderabad, met the imam of the Jama Masjid in Delhi and also the temples of the fortune of new India—industry leaders. At a time when the force of the diaspora in India has the power to support—at least on social media, Ghulati is keen to tap into it. And the battle between him and Khan, is being projected as an Indian vs Pakistani—the dynamics which has grabbed eye-balls. The question is whether Ghulati can use this to propel himself into office.
A multicultural melting pot, the Indian diaspora may not have enough swing as yet, but he is willing to take a swing at it. Ken Livingston was the only other independent candidate to have won the post of mayor in London in 2000 in his first bid. He had tried to get a Labour party ticket but he lost the position to Frank Dobson, forcing him to run solo. Will Ghulati be the next?