Election can be held any time in Britain, and if the Labour Party ends up forming the government, then the new regime could push for internationalisation of Kashmir issue. This understanding forms the basis of Indian government snubbing the Labour Party that sits in the opposition in Britain.
The Labour Party was snubbed by the Indian High Commission and various forums of Indian diaspora on September 29 when they organised India Day in London to mark the 73rd Independence Day that the country celebrated last month.
The special event was organised by India Day UK, NRI Platform UK and India Community Organisations, who had the backing of the High Commission of India in London. Held at Osterley Sports Grounds, India Day event did not have an invitee from the Labour Party.
‘Boycott rather than entertain the Labour politicians’ is a “policy” decision taken by the Indian government, said Kuldeep Shekhawat, the President of Overseas Friends while speaking to India Today in London.
This is a “pre-decided policy” to not support those taking “anti-India” stand. It resulted in cancellation of the reception dinner hosted by the HCI for Labour Party leaders. The same template is likely to be followed for future events.
This comes as a reaction to the Labour Party’s decision to pass a resolution earlier this month on Kashmir at a party convention. The resolution supports move to “internationalise the matter (Kashmir issue). This has caused flutter among the NRI community in the UK.
The people of Indian diaspora present at the India Day event largely supported this policy of boycott. The Labour Party has traditionally enjoyed strong support among the Indian diaspora. With the probability of election gaining momentum, this stance could be fatal for the party.
Santosh Patil, a long-time supporter of the Labour Party, said he will no longer support them. “I want the Labour Party to know that we, Indians contribute to six per cent of the GDP and form two per cent of the total population. We can make a lot of difference and Labour Party knows it. We have always supported them, but they are snubbing us now and going far away.”
Labour Party MP Virendra Sharma, who is normally integral part of such events and in whose constituency India Day was held, said, “As a Member of Parliament, I am disappointed with the outcome of the resolution at the party conference but I am also disappointed when the people of Indian origin leave the Labour Party and not vote for or join it. I think like this, you are leaving the whole party and platform to an element that is totally anti-India.”
However, Virendra Sharma’s point of view is not shared by fellow Labour Party leader Anand Tomar, who has not resigned from the party as he insists, “You have to be in it to win it.”
Tomar, though, is one of a very few NRS to think along those lines. Most in the Indian diaspora feel that if pro-India MPs within the Labour Party felt so strongly about the issue, then they should have either resigned or tried to change the resolution.
Virendra Sharma felt that they need the help of the community to put pressure on their constituency’s MP and build a consensus to change the resolution in the next year’s party conference.
As of now, “anger” among the Indian diaspora against the Labour Party has been legitimised with the Indian government too severing ties with the party.
“The manner in which politics in Kashmir was going on for the last 70 years, same politics is being played in UK, where democracy is being misused and vote bank politics is being used to pass a resolution. This is a dangerous situation for the UK and the various diasporas living here,” said Vinod Tikoo of the Kashmiri Pandits Cultural Society.
Snubbed by the Indian government and boycotted by the Indian diaspora voters, the Labour Party has opened a can of worms that may end up dividing Indian diaspora in the UK.