India calling

by December 16, 2019 0 comments

A record number of Indian-origin MPs were voted to the UK Parliament but not all might end up being friends of India

Fifteen of the newly-elected Members of Parliament (MPs) in Westminster will have Indian roots. And while 15 out of 650 MPs might not seem like much, this is an assertion of how influential the British Indian community has become. At least two or three MPs of  the Conservative Party, which won a stunning victory, are expected to become members of the Cabinet, including Priti Patel and Rishi Sunak, the latter familiar to some Indians as Infosys-founder NR Narayana Murthy’s son-in-law. There were several Indian-origin MPs from the Labour Party as well and their number included Lisa Nandy, who some are pegging as a potential candidate for leading the Labour Party following the planned resignation of the current leader, Jeremy Corbyn. While most Indian-origin MPs of the Conservative Party are generally seen as pro-India — there was a concerted effort within the Indian community to consolidate behind the Conservatives after Corbyn’s statements on the Kashmir issue and his previous statements sympathetic to terrorist organisations — it is not as if Labour’s Indian origin MPs are anti-India. But given Labour’s extreme position on some issues, it is almost certain that its MPs will be critical of the Indian Government’s stance on several issues.

This is something that the Modi regime must be prepared for as such MPs, while being the biggest advocacy group for Indian interests, could also end up being the biggest critics of policies back home. The Chennai-born US Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal has been leading attacks in the US Congress against the Modi Government. Several first and second-generation Sikh immigrants in politics, particularly in Canada, have been openly advocating the Khalistani cause. Just because someone holds an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card does not make them a “friend” of India. Our diplomats and policy-makers should never forget this. At the same time, the Modi Government’s overt support to certain Indian organisations that are weaponising the Indian diaspora politically is a good move. For example, many of Jayapal’s constituents are from the Indian community working in the Greater Seattle area’s IT industry, dominated by Amazon and Microsoft. Hundreds of them have written to her criticising her stance on Kashmir, making her realise that she cannot take the community’s vote for granted. We should celebrate the success of our diaspora in every field, including politics, but we must not for one second forget that they do not owe their allegiance to India and are not “Indians.”

(Courtesy: The Pioneer)

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