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Close second place Labour candidate slams Tory General Election campaign as 'sectarian' and 'divisive'

Labour's Navin Shah was just 1,757 votes behind incumbent Conservative MP Bob Blackman in Harrow East

A Labour candidate who came a close second in the marginal seat of Harrow East slammed his opponent party's campaign as "sectarian" and "divisive".

Although Conservative Bob Blackman received 25,129 votes, an increase of 461 from the 2015 General Election , the seat margin narrowed with Navin Shah just 1,757 votes behind him.

Mr Shah, who is currently Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow, gained 23,372 votes for the Labour Party in Harrow East.

During his results speech at the Harrow count, he said: "This has been truly a grassroots campaign.

"We have a fought a campaign based on policies and principles... without stooping to a sectarian or divisive approach, which is so important in a diverse community like Harrow.

"I am pleased we have that moral ground.

"Unfortunately, that can't be said about the Tory campaign. Since 2008, they have been fighting a divisive campaign which does not help a diverse community like Harrow."

Previous Labour candidate for Harrow East, Uma Kumaran, told iNews her reason for not standing in the constituency a second time over controversial leafleting by the Tory party during their campaign.

Conservative Party leaflets were distributed urging people to vote Conservative so that legislation outlawing caste discrimination could be blocked - and resurfaced again during this election, in Harrow West Hannah David's leaflets.

There was tangible disappointment in the air after Mr Shah's close second place announcement, with one audience member shouting "That's the real winner!" during his speech.

But Bob Blackman had offered his commiserations with Navin Shah, and spoke of how his opponent had "fought a brilliant campaign as always".

A fan praised him as "flying the flag for India" after his win.

Mr Blackman told getwestlondon : "I'd like to thank the people of Harrow East for agreeing to re-elect me as their representative.

"I'm looking forward to serving them in Parliament over the next five years, as their Member of Parliament, as I have done for the last seven years.

"I'm delighted with the result, I've produced an increase in my vote, and quite clearly held off this Labour surge which is said to have taken place across London."

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