Keith Vaz

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Graphic courtesy: The Times of India ,May 29 2015

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The Times of India ,May 29 2015

Kounteya Sinha

High-profile Indianorigin MP Keith Vaz has broken the glass ceiling of British politics by becoming Labour vice-chairman, the second-most important post of the party. Born to Goan parents in Aden, 58-year-old Vaz -Britain's longest-serving Asian MP -is virtually the top man in Labour for now as the party does not have a chairman after Ed Miliband quit after the recent election rout.

Vaz's appointment reflects Labour Party's fresh interest in garnering an all-important Indian origin support in the future, especially after a million ethnic minority votes helped put Conservative PM David Cameron back into 10 Downing Street.

Britain's best known face of the Indian diaspora and a six-time MP since 1987, Vaz was re-elected from Leicester East. He got 61% of the votes. Indian-origin MP Keith Vaz, who also serves as the chair of the influential home affairs select committee in the House of Commons, studied law at Cambridge University before becoming a solicitor. “I am delighted to have been appointed as vice-chairman of the Labour Party . After coming through a difficult election, it is time for the party to regroup and bring fresh new ideas to the table. Playing a part in that process is a source of great pride for me,“ he said on Thursday after being appointed by acting leader of the opposition, Harriet Harman.

From standing by the family of the Indian nurse who committed suicide after Australian RJs played a prank on her, to getting the £3000 visa bond scheme scrapped to rescuing Baba Ramdev after he was detained at the airport in UK recently , Vaz is the most prominent Indian-origin MP in the country . In 1987, there were on y two members of Indian origin in both the houses of Parliament. Today , there are over 25.

Talking about Narendra Modi earlier with the TOI, Vaz had said, “The UK has a special relationship with India. I am sure that Modi will govern with airness, wisdom and ambition and will look to engage with the UK and India's diaspora here at the earliest opportunity .“

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