Belfast Telegraph

Sikh who pranked Miliband on train is Tory Upper Bann hope

By Rebecca Black

A Sikh Londoner whose prank played on Labour leader Ed Miliband went viral has hopes of winning one of the most contested seats in Northern Ireland.

A video of Conservative Amandeep Singh Bhogal (31) sitting down beside Mr Miliband on a train and posing for a photograph has become a must-watch online.

Mr Miliband can be heard asking Mr Bhogal: "Are you going to make sure the Sikh vote turns out for us?"

He responded by saying: "Well I'm going to make sure the Sikh vote turns out."

He added: "I would not worry about the polls at all," as he produced a mask of SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon from his pocket.

The video clip ends with the Labour leader rolling his eyes.

David Cameron yesterday chided Labour that if it formed a government propped up by the SNP it would mean "more spending, more borrowing, more debt and more taxes".

Mr Bhogal, a former diplomat who was born in India and grew up in England, is standing in Upper Bann for the Conservative Party.

Mr Bhogal drew parallels between Northern Ireland and his native India, saying that soldiers from the Connaught Rangers who were stationed in his town in India mutinied in 1920 and established the first 'Irish government in exile'.

He said that, as in Northern Ireland, there had been sectarian troubles in the Punjab but the region had managed to "beat that insurgency" and improve the economy.

He grew up in London before joining the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as a junior administrative officer in the diplomatic service. Mr Bhogal is married with two children.

The constituency, which takes in Craigavon, Lurgan and Portadown, has become a unionist dogfight between the DUP's David Simpson and UUP candidate Jo-Anne Dobson.

Sinn Fein also polls strongly in Upper Bann and has hopes of its candidate Catherine Seeley being able to snatch a dark horse victory after unionist pact negotiations failed. The Conservatives have not polled well in this constituency in the past. Their best performance was during the UUP and Tory pact in 2010 when an Ulster Conservative and Unionists candidate secured 10,639 votes.

Mr Bhogal will also face candidates from the SDLP, Workers Party and the Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol party.

Belfast Telegraph


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