A proposed new All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for British Gujaratis has stirred up controversy, with diaspora organisations questioning the lack of proper consultation with relevant stakeholders from the Gujarati community and warning against an “ill conceived” move that would prove divisive.
The APPG for British Gujaratis, which proposes a formal launch on April 25, held an inaugural meeting in the House of Commons complex early last month. According to a statement issued following the meeting, the group is described as a means to “raise issues and concerns of the UK Gujarati community” towards improved decision making.
Now, organisations such as the Hindu Forum of Britain (HFB) and National Association of Patidar Samaj have issued strongly worded letters to the Chair of the proposed APPG, Opposition Labour Party MP for Harrow West in London Gareth Thomas, to register their protest against the new APPG and also called for its launch to be halted.
The letter from HFB President Trupti Patel reads: “From our assessment it has become clear that the vast majority of Hindu/Gujarati/Indian organisations have not been consulted. Had this basic first step taken place then it would have become abundantly clear that the said APPG Gujarati commanded no confidence and is rejected by Gujaratis and the Indian diaspora in general.
“It is our view (and that of our members) that the APPG Gujarati is ill conceived, that it serves to divide the Indian diaspora and that it seems to have a suspect political agenda that has little to do with the needs of the Gujarati community, or indeed that of the Indian diaspora.”
The organisation has called for the group to cease all operations and be disbanded, with all references in the parliamentary register to be removed.
MORE LIKE THIS…
Pravin Amin, President of the National Association of Patidar Samaj (NAPS) – a 54-year-old community organisation representing the British Gujarati community, notes in his letter: “The motive and need for such a group are not made clear to us. At present we do not see the need for it. There are already APPGs covering issues relating to Gujaratis.
“NAPS objects to formation of an organisation representing our members without identifying a real need for it.”
C.B. Patel, Editor-in-Chief of ‘Gujarat Samachar’ and founder-patron of the National Council of Gujarati Organisations UK, said that community members have sought an immediate meeting with the Chair and Vice-Chair of the proposed APPG – Conservative Party MP for Harrow East in London Bob Blackman.
MORE LIKE THIS…
“The APPG must answer whether there was any consultation that was carried out for this. If so, the details of the organisation and individuals must come to light,” he said.
The Chair, Gareth Thomas, told iGlobal: "I am grateful for the considerable interest and support there has been in the APPG for British Gujaratis so far. I recognise there are those with questions about on what and how the APPG will work.
"I am keen to meet with the Hindu Forum for Britain to hear their concerns and to share ideas and am in the process of making contact with them directly."
MORE LIKE THIS…
In a statement last month in relation to the new group, he said: “There are an estimated 800,000 British Gujaratis; mostly concentrated in metropolitan areas like Greater London, Midlands, Lancashire & Yorkshire.
"I hope the APPG will be able to celebrate the vision and ambition of British Gujaratis and address some of the remaining challenges they face in for example healthcare and In access to good quality care of the elderly.
“I hope too that the APPG will be able to engage on issues in education, well-being, bilateral trade with the State of Gujarat and economic development here in the UK.”