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November 12, 2019

Exposed: India’s plot of meddling in UK elections


Tue, Nov 12, 2019

LONDON: Nardenra Modi’s government has been accused of interfering in UK’s upcoming general elections after a group in Britain affiliated with the Bahartiya Janata Party (BJP) announced to campaign against Labour Party – and in support of Conservatives - in over nearly 50 constituencies where Hindu voters could play a decisive role in deciding the outcome.

Official announcement by the Overseas Friends of BJP (OFBJP) that its campaign against dozens of Labour MPs in key marginals, including two Sikh MPs, has sent shockwaves in the political circles and fears have grown that Indian government under Narendra Modi is using unethical tactics to punish Labour Party over its stance on the issue of occupied Kashmir and at the same time punish those MPs who have always spoken in support of human rights issues of religious and ethnic minorities and social classes in India.

Kuldeep Singh Shekhawat, the president of the OFBJP, confirmed that he was leading campaigning against the Labour Party for its criticism of India over the lockdown of Kashmir after Article 370 was revoked. He said that in about 50 constituencies his group is urging British Indian’s to vote against Labour and swing the election results.

Kuldeep Singh Shekhawat has proudly claimed that he’s linked with the Indian BJP and enjoys its full support.

“We have a team in each constituency which is going round with the Tory candidate leafleting, speaking to people and persuading them to vote Tory,” said Kuldeep Singh Shekhawat. “The teams are organised by the BJP and Friends of India Society International.”

At its annual party conference in September, the Labour Party enraged the BJP when it passed a motion calling for humanitarian and international observers to enter the Indian occupied Kashmir. The same motion spoke in support for right of self-determination for the people of Kashmir.

Kuldeep Singh Shekhawat confirmed he has put together a team to mobilise the Indian diaspora through Mandirs, Gurudwaras and community organisations to "not vote for the Labour party".

Shekhawat also said their campaign will target Britain’s only two Sikh MPs – Tan Dhesi and Preet Gill – both of whom are Labour. He said that both Sikh MPs should be replaced with Conservatives.

“We are 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,” Shekhawat said, because – he claimed – “some of them have signed letters against India”.

In Britain, the OFBJP is registered as a charity with the Charity Commission and under its law no charity can engage in political activity or target parties and individuals.

Campaigning by the BJP linked group has prompted fears of heightened ethnic tensions with potential to lead towards strife and violence.

MPs who are being targeted have expressed alarm and they have expressed worry that they are being bullied through foreign interference. They have said that what the BJP affiliate is doing in the name of religion and nationalism tantamount to bullying and intimidation.

The OFBJPUK, founded in 1992, says it aims to “spread a positive message of the BJP Government in India” led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The group offers full support to Modi, BJP and Rashtraya Sewak Singh (RSS).

Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, who is standing to be re-elected as the Labour MP for Slough, said that action of the OFBJP point towards foreign interference. “There has been a lot of talk in recent years about foreign external interference in elections and surely this is just another prime example of it.”

He said: “Unlike what some people may try to portray, the Labour Party is not anti-India, anti-Pakistan, or anti anyone else. We merely stand up for and have always stood up for the human rights of all – regardless of background, colour or creed.”

Campaigners have confirmed that BJP and RSS activists have campaign against the only turban-wearing Sikh MP in Slough.

The OFBJP has confirmed that it’s in talks with the Hindu temples in the UK to oppose Labour and support Conservatives. At a temple last week in London, the video of a Hindu leader went viral where he urged the congregation not to vote Labour over its support for the people of occupied Kashmir. According to rules of Charity Commission, no temple or any religious place can engage in political activity.

A spokesperson for the Charity Commission said: “The public expect charities to be driven by their purpose and representing their beneficiaries at all times, which is all the more important in this intense political environment. Charities must never engage in party political activity.”

Groups linked with the ruling Indian party are also targeting the Labour party through social media campaigning. Dozens of whatsapp groups have been set up urging Hindus to vote against Labour in the general election, accusing the party of being “anti-India” and “anti-Hindu”.

One message viral through whatsapp groups and carrying a video said: “The Labour party is now the mouth-piece of the Pakistani government … it is anti-India, anti-Hindu and anti- Modi. So if there are any Indians who are still voting for Labour, or are still members of the Labour party – then respectfully I say, they are traitors to their ancestral land, to their family and friends in India and to their cultural heritage.”

The message added on top banner: “Pass this to every true Indian.”

Indian businessman Dudakia who is linked with the BJP has sponsored these messages. The same businessman recently spoke in the House of Commons at a Diwali event organized by Tory MP Bob Blackman, who is know for his support for BJP. At that event, Dudakia urged voters to vote for Hindus and not Muslims. He told the audience Conservatives were the only party for Hindus and that voting for Labour would mean voting for Muslims.

The Whatsapp groups set up to attack Labour party push messages by far-right anti-Muslim figures such as Katie Hopkins and Anne Marie Waters who routinely attack Muslims and ethnic minorities but lately they have formed alliance with the BJP and RSS supporters over their shared hatred of Muslims and other religious minorities.