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General election

Name: Jaswant Singh Birdi

Constituency: Coventry North East

RELIGION PROVIDED the link between the worlds of civil engineering and politics for the Conservative candidate for Coventry North East.

Jaswant Singh Birdi settled in Coventry in the 1960s and trained in engineering.

He put his skills to use during the construction of religious buildings in the city, with the need to follow planning rules bringing him into the local political scene.

His professional career took him to Warwickshire County Council, where he specialised in bridge design. He later joined Arup.

'You have to have an employer who is very supportive of you if you are to fulfil your commitment as an employee and a politician, ' he says.

'I've come to find that the parties tend to favour people from law or accountancy backgrounds.

'But we are trying to make everybody aware that engineers are equally capable.' Infrastructure concerns form part of his campaign. 'We need to put more money into this because any further deterioration will cause the whole city to run down, ' he says.

The seat is currently held by Labour's Bob Ainsworth with a majority of over 15,000.

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