The Leader of the Opposition Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer, reflected on the “incredibly peaceful” feeling during his first visit to the Hare Krishna Temple in Watford, Hertfordshire, amid Diwali festivities this month.
Vinay Tanna, from the Bhaktivedanta Manor International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), told iGlobal that the Labour leader – who is vegetarian – was also presented with a book on vegetarian food by the temple president and fed the temple cows during the visit this week.
Tanna said: “It was a wonderful visit during which Sir Keir Starmer met with the temple’s trustees and was also given the opportunity to offer gau puja (cow prayers); our temple is well-known for its cow protection programme.
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“He also toured the George Harrison Memorial Gardens on the grounds of the Hare Krishna Temple and reflected upon how incredibly peaceful the experience of the temple visit had been.”
The High Commissioner of India to the UK, Vikram Doraiswami, also met the Labour Leader at the temple.
The duo is said to have discussed a variety of topics at the meeting, including Labour’s commitment to building on the strong links between India and the UK. A future Labour government will see improving trade links, especially for new and green technologies, as a priority, a party spokesperson said. The Labour Leader re-emphasised how much his Labour Party values the Indian community here in the UK, and how pleased he was to be relaying that message at the Diwali dinner.
The visit came as the Opposition party is shifting gears into election footing as the governing Conservative Party continues to battle through turmoil and a cost-of-living crisis. The nearly 1.6-million-strong Indian diaspora is an important electorate in the UK and was seen as being disenchanted with the Labour Party’s perceived anti-India stance in recent years.
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Starmer is keen to win over the support of this important electorate, which analysts believe can hold the swing factor in a general election.