Deva was born in Sri Lanka into a politically active family and was raised in Britain. He was the fifth Asian-born person to be elected a Member of the House of Commons, and in 1999 became the second so-born to be elected as a Conservative to the European Parliament which operates via a party list system. In November 2011 he became the European Conservatives and Reformists Group's candidate for President of the European Parliament, following three UN-related roles, representing the European Union, in the 2005 to 2006 period.
Nirj describes himself as the first ‘non-white’ Conservative MP and MEP. FRA is representing Nirj in placing his memoirs with publishers.