In an unprecedented development, which could have massive ramifications on the future of global politics, especially the United Kingdom, the Indian diaspora in Britain have decided to actively campaign for the incumbent Conservative Party in the UK general election.
With Labour Party taking an anti-India stand, the Indian diaspora is all set to reject them electorally in the upcoming elections, which could set up a new template for future elections in many countries.
According to the reports, the Indian diaspora and mainly the BJP supporters have decided to put their weight behind the Boris Johnson led Conservative party also known as the ‘Tories’ in the 48 marginal seats that go to polls on December 12. The Indian groups are campaigning for the ruling party and asking people belonging to Indian-origin voters not to vote for the Labour party.
The British Indian vote has the ability to decide the outcome of nearly 40 seats in the upcoming elections and could be a gamechanger if they vote en masse for one single party in the UK elections.
Kuldeep Singh Shekhawat, the UK President of Overseas Friends of BJP, said that his group had identified 48 Labour-Conservative marginal seats in which the British Indian vote could play a decisive role. He further stated that the Indian diaspora group is trying to oust six Indian-origin Labour MPs.
“We are doing this for three reasons. Firstly, some Labour MPs joined the violent protests outside India House on August 15 and September 3. Secondly, no Labour MPs spoke in favour of India in the House of Commons on Kashmir, and thirdly because of the Labour motion on Kashmir passed at their party conference. Kashmir is an internal matter of India. Why is the Labour party discussing the Indian state? We will only support MPs who support us,” Shekhawat said.
Shekhawat added that the diaspora is working with the Tory candidates in Keith Vaz’s ex seat, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi’s seat, Preet Gill’s seat, Lisa Nandy’s seat, Seema Malhotra’s and Valerie Vaz’s seats, he said. All six are Indian-origin Labour MPs.
He added that the Indian groups will not be supporting the Labour MPs because some of them have a Khalistani tag and are not doing anything for India or looking at India as a sovereign nation. “Some of them have signed letters against India. We will happily support anyone who supports India as a sovereign nation, including non-Indian origin candidates, against these candidates,” Shekhawat said.
Prominent Pakistan-origin people associated with the Labour Party in the UK were also part of anti-India protests where Pakistanis attacked the Indian High Commission in the UK in September 2019 on abrogation of Article 370 in J&K.
“If the entire Indian community in the UK votes Tory, we will see a swing of around 40 seats to the Tories. This will swing the actual election result,” he declared.
This is the first time the OFBJP has ever extended open support for a party in a UK general election. The Indian diaspora campaign against the Labour Party comes as a response for its anti-India stand of the Labour party. On September 25, the Labour Party had passed a resolution that supported “international intervention in Kashmir and a call for UN led-referendum.”
The resolution passed by the Labour party had asked Corbyn to meet the high commissioners of both India and Pakistan to ensure there is “mediation” and restoration of peace and normality to prevent a potential nuclear conflict. The Labour party’s stand on Kashmir is contrary to India’s position on Kashmir. India has categorically told the international community that its move on Kashmir was an internal matter. India maintains Kashmir is a bilateral issue and no third party has any role in it.
Interestingly, the Indian community in Britain till now never voted as a bloc, unlike the Pakistan community, which is directed by imams on how to vote. With Labour party trying to meddle in India’s internal affairs, the OFBJP is approaching temples, social groups, and hundreds of Asian community bodies to tell them not to vote Labour. “We have met 37 groups so far and organised meetings in all the possible temples,” Shekhawat said.
According to Shekhawat, the British-Indian group will be supporting just one Labour PIO MP, Virendra Sharma, who represents Ealing Southall, as he had stood up for the community.
He added that not a single Hindu will vote for Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi as Hindu voters think he is working closely with the Pakistani community. “He is always seen with Pakistanis and goes to the Pakistan high commission. He is a vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Britain-Pakistan Trade and Tourism and was vice-chair of the APPG Kashmir group. Why is that? The Indian community in Slough are annoyed and have decided to vote for the Tory candidate,” Shekhawat said.
The OFBJP UK President said that they have a team in each constituency which is going around with the Tory candidate leafleting, speaking to people and persuading them to vote Tory. The teams are organised by the BJP and Friends of India Society International (FISI), he added.
“Until December 2018 the majority of Indians supported Labour. But in the last seven to eight months Labour has shown a radical face. With Corbyn at the head, Labour is opposed to anything India wants to do and Corbyn never speaks good about India. Kashmir was the flashpoint. But anger was building up for months,” Shekhawat said.
Reportedly, the OFBJP has already organised their first campaign meeting and invited 300 Indian-origin constituents on Sunday to a meeting with Tory MP Bob Blackman from Harrow East who has a majority of just 1,757 above Labour. They also had a meeting with Dr Anwara Ali who is standing for the Tories in Harrow West, which currently has a Labour MP with a majority of 13,314.