Prime Minister Narendra Modi is due to make a much-anticipated visit to the UK on 12-14 November 2015. Of benefit to both countries, the visit is cause for great celebration to UK Indians.
The 13 November event at Wembley to connect the Indian diaspora to Modi, no mean organisational feat by any measure,is expected to reach 55,000 persons. But the joy of the momentous occasion is mitigated by the prospect of the Wembley event being used cynically by the Labour Party to whitewash its record vis-a-vis PM Modi and India, while actively continuing to promote forces working against Modi and India.
PM Modi has survived many an attack on his reputation since 2002, when he became Chief Minister of the Indian state of Gujarat, the origin of a large section of the Indians in the UK.
British officials, under the Blair Labour government, had been instructed since the 2002 riots not to deal directly with Mr Modi. It is not just the Indian courts which have repeatedly cleared Modi from wrongdoing, a fact which his detractors conspicuously ignore, betraying their disingenuous designs.
An application for Modi’s arrest following allegations of torture was made in the UK in 2003 but dismissed for failure by the petitioners to produce evidence. Modi suffered other humiliations at the hands of Labour governments.The campaign against him took the form of visa denials in the UK and,since 2005, in the United States, the latter known to have been encouraged by anti-national forces in India.
Members of the Labour Party have consistently expressed an anti-India and anti-Modi stance. In 2007, an Early Day Motion (EDM) on the killing of Muslims in Gujarat was primarily supported by Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs.
Those signing up to the EDM make no mention of the wanton murder of Hindus that led to subsequent riots, and applaud “the recent decision of the United States not to grant a visa to the Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for severe violations of religious freedoms.”
The language is evocative of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), set up at the behest of evangelical interests, and basically underwrites the foreign-orchestrated campaign to unseat an elected leader, by sponsoring criminal elements in India.
In 2010, the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government began to lift the boycott against Mr Modi with the announcement that the High Commissioner to India would be going to Gujarat, already known then as a flagship state and a powerful economic success story.
Matters took a dramatic turn after the 16 May 2014 election in India resulted in a resounding victory for the BJP, and the NDA coalition of which it forms the major part, with Modi becoming PM of India.
David Cameron congratulated Modi on his election victory, inviting him to visit the UK. Besides support for PM Modi, the Conservatives were the only party that took account of India as a global player in their 2015 election manifesto, supporting India’s permanent membership of the UN Security Council and a free trade deal between the EU and India.
While the new Conservative government has made it clear that it welcomes Mr Modi, the stance of other parties has been ambivalent or worse.
The Labour Party in particular has a history of hostility against Mr Modi, motivated in part by its reliance on votes from the UK’s Mirpuri, Pakistani electorate. Nearly 70 per cent of Pakistanis voted for Labour in 2015, the highest for all ‘Asian’ groups.
As the British government began to court Modi, elements within the Labour and Respect parties insisted on embargoing him.
An EDM of 17 December 2012 sponsored by Respect’s George Galloway superciliously demanded that Modi not be allowed to visit Britain and that the British High Commissioner in India sever relations with him.
Three Labour MPs, all with significant Muslim voters in their constituencies, including the current Shadow Chancellor Shadow of the Exchequer, John McDonnell, co-sponsored the EDM.
Another EDM tabled on 4 September 2013 sponsored by six Labour and Respect party MPs, took a similar stand. Two of its co-sponsors were Jeremy Corbyn, the new Labour leader, and John McDonnell.
As concerns broader policy towards India, Labour Party members, without demur or explanation from the Labour leadership, have advocated a referendum in Kashmir.
Tantamount to interference in India’s internal affairs, it concedes to Pakistani jihadism, the cause of massive violations against Kashmiri Pandits, including their forced expulsion from Kashmir. Support for a referendum effectively endorses violations carried out by Pakistan-sponsored jihadists. Yet this appears to be the current stand of the Labour Party, exemplifying the left’s ambivalence about confronting jihadism.
Pakistan-sponsored elements including Kashmiri and Khalistani separatistsare expected to figure prominently among protestors during the Modi visit.John McDonnell, close to UK Khalistanis, has compared the killing of Sikhs in 1984 to what Hitler did to the Jews and has called on India to conduct an inquiry on the events of 1984.
Corbyn and McDonnellboth supported an event at Westminster for the group Awaaz which submitted a report prior to the 2014 Lok Sabha election advocating a Modi boycott. The occasion was used to brand all Hindus as fascists.
Conceived to back Church-led proselytism and conversions in India,the caste provision in the Equality Act 2010 received decisive support from the Labour and Liberal Democrat benches in Parliament, despite overwhelming oppositionfrom the Hindu and Jain community.
The Labour Party compelled its MPs to vote for the caste clause. Among the MPs to share the podium with Modi at Wembley, Virendra Sharma and the Chair of Labour Friends of India, Barry Gardiner, both voted in favour of the caste clause.
Implicit in such support is the idea that Indian Dharmic traditions are false religions and no longer worth preserving.
Figures for the UK’s Dalit population were picked out of thin air to justify the caste legislation, with a constant ratcheting up of the number. While Lord Avebury cited a figure between 50,000 and 200,000, Jeremy Corbyn stated that there were 1 million Dalits in the UK. Bearing in mind that Hindu, Sikhs and Jains are together some 1.3 million, the staggering figure for Dalits has never been explained by Corbyn despite repeated requests.
The new Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn,and the new Labour front bench have played an unpatriotic role shaping UK policy against Mr Modi. The Labour Party thus pits itself against the largest democracy in the world.
A minority in that party,no doubt those who will be joining PM Modi at Wembley, ostensibly favour a softer, more nuanced stance towards Mr Modi. They appear insignificant considering their party’s attitude to India, the BJP and PM Modi, and are caught between an intransigent leadership and a rising Modi-led India that is a matter of pride for its diaspora in the UK. They include figures such as Keith Vaz, Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, stonewalls when confronted about Labour’s role.
We appear badly served by the Asian press in the UK too, which, for reasons best known to its proprietors, refuses to talk about the Labour record on India and Modi, effectively playing its part in the duplicity.
The Labour Party is perfidiously jeopardising a relationship of long-term benefit to both countries, as well as one of great succour to the Indian diaspora in the UK. It is playing two hands simultaneously on the occasion of the Modi visit.
Select Labour members will embrace Modi while the party leadership apparently legitimates potentially dangerous protests against Modi by its long term friends. The exact nature of the relationship of the Labour Party with the Pakistani and Khalistani protestors expected to besiege Modi’s historic Wembley stadium event requires careful scrutiny. As Sun Tzu long ago said: “All warfare is based on deception.”
Prakash Shah is a Reader in Culture and Law at Queen Mary University of London.