Shameful: Labour on Tory candidate’s Kashmir reference in UK election campaign

Labour’s Leicester East Candidate Rajesh Agrawal
Labour’s Leicester East Candidate Rajesh Agrawal

The Labour Indians diaspora group has strongly condemned a Tory candidate’s “deeply divisive tactics to divide and rule communities in Dudley for political gain”.

Marco Longhi, who is contesting in the constituency of Dudley against Labour’s Sonia Kumar, has been accused of adopting “dog-whistle politics” and divisive tactics after a campaign letter entitled “Voters of the British Pakistani/Kashmiri community in Dudley” emerged online. The letter, which begins by greeting the Muslim community a happy Eid al-Adha, being celebrated this week, goes on to reference the political landscape in India and raises the issue of Kashmir as a warning to voters against voting for Indian-origin Kumar.

Labour Indians described Longhi’s comments as “racist, dangerous, and wholly unacceptable in modern Britain”.

One of the Labour Party’s frontline British Indian candidates in the July 4 General Election, Rajesh Agrawal – contesting the Leicester East seat, was among the first to hit back at the Conservative Party candidate’s “offensive” and anti-India campaign strategy in the West Midlands.

Agrawal spoke out on behalf of his Labour Party colleague: “This is a shameful attempt to divide communities and is offensive to both Muslim and Hindu communities. There should be zero tolerance of the dog-whistle politics Mr Longhi is engaged in.

Rishi Sunak should put country before party and immediately remove his party’s support for Mr Longhi campaign and apologise for attempting to alienate British Indians.”

The politics of the Indian sub-continent, especially around India-Pakistan tensions over the region of Kashmir, have also found their way into UK politics in past elections. Longhi’s purported letter tries to whip up anti-India sentiment among voters of Pakistani heritage by referencing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s re-election for a third term in India’s recently concluded General Election as a reason for voters to reject Labour’s Kumar.

“Who will speak for Kashmir in Parliament?” – is the question he raises in the letter.

It is in complete contrast to the Conservative Party led government’s oft-repeated official stance that the issue of Kashmir is a bilateral matter between India and Pakistan, as well as the people of Kashmir.

Longhi and the Conservative Party have been approached for a comment.


Labour’s Leicester East Candidate Rajesh Agrawal
I want to be the voice of every community in Leicester: Rajesh Agrawal

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