Uma Kumaran, daughter of a couple who sought refuge in the United Kingdom after having fled Sri Lanka at the height of the civil war, on Friday scripted history by becoming the first-ever Tamil woman to enter the British Parliament.

Born and raised in London, Uma Kumaran is the first ever member of parliament for Stratford and Bow. Her parents hailed from Jaffna in the war-torn northern province of Sri Lanka and belong to a family that had deep connections with trade unions. They came to London in the 1980s.

A member of the Labour Party, Uma Kumaran polled over 19,000 votes and defeated her nearest rival by over 12,000 votes.

Working for NHS Professionals for 14 months, Uma Kumaran was a parliamentary researcher and caseworker for Labour MP Dawn Butler and worked with several lawmakers of the party before she contested the local body elections in 2010 but failed to get elected.

She was also deputy director of Parliamentary Affairs for Labour Party leader Keir Starmer for over 18 months.

“It is the honour of my life to be elected to serve as the first ever member of parliament for Stratford and Bow. Thank you to all who placed your trust in me and in the Labour party. I’ll always be your voice and your representative,” she said on Friday after her victory.

London has a significant Tamil population with a large portion of them being Sri Lankan Tamils who had fled the country during the war and settled there.

In an interview with a website, Uma Kumaran had said last month that her Labour values run deep in her blood, through her family and her parents.

“My grandad was one of Jaffna’s first Trade Unionists - his dad, my great-granddad, kicked him out of the house temporarily for joining the front of a trade union picket line calling for rights for sanitation workers. He was furious, I am told. It wasn’t the done thing in respectable families. Both my grandfathers were civil servants and always had a sense of public service. This runs throughout my family,” she had said.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin was one of the first to congratulate Uma Kumaran on her victory.

“Hearty congratulations to @Uma_Kumaran on becoming the first-ever Member of Parliament for Stratford and Bow and the first-ever Tamil woman to become a member of the UK Parliament. You bring great pride to the Tamil community,” he said.

(Deccan Herald)

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