After anti-India, anti-Hindu unrest in Leicester, Labour Party purges all Hindu councillors in local polls

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APRIL 7, 2023

London: The Labour Party in the UK has reportedly deselected 18 of its councillors in Leicester, including all its Hindu councillors, thereby preventing them from contesting in the upcoming local elections scheduled in May.

Out of the 18 councillors, seven are of Indian-origin, including six Hindus and one Christian, TOI reported.

All these candidates had voted for a motion at a special council meeting last month to remove the directly elected mayoral model, however, the motion was defeated 20-32.

This comes after the party’s national executive committee (NEC) parachuted into Leicester to choose candidates to contest alongside the local party and the city’s mayor, Peter Soulsby. This has reportedly usurped the customary procedure in which local Labour branches choose candidates to run in their wards after a hustings, thereby leaving many party candidates and branches outraged.

In view of the Hindu-Muslim unrest in August and September last year, the Labour Party’s decision to deselect all of its Hindu councillors has drawn criticism.

For the unversed, councillors and the city mayor are all set for re-election on May 4.

Besides the Indian-origin councillors, others who have been deselected were of Pakistani or Bangladeshi origin, and some were white.

“They have done this in cities where they felt there were councillors at risk of returning not in line with established views. In Leicester the focus was on deselecting Corbyn and Keith Vaz supporters,” the TOI report quoted Hemant Rae Bhatia, a Labour councillor since 2015, who is one of those deselected, as saying.

“The way Labour took away the democratic right of branches to select their candidates does not match what Keir Starmer said at party conference, namely that branches are fundamental and democratic units of the party,” Bhatia added.

Out of all the deselected candidates, Luis Fonseca, belonging to India’s Diu region, is not standing again, while Bhatia and Rashmikant Joshi have switched to the Conservatives.

As per the report, Padmini Chamund, Nita Solanki and Mahendra Valand — the representatives of the Belgrave ward where the Leicester unrest occurred, along with Rita Patel, will now be standing as independents.

While the Labour Party has dominated the council so far, Bhatia believes that this time around Conservatives have a great chance to sweep the polls owing to dissatisfaction with the city mayor. “Hindus and Muslims don’t have trust in Soulsby now. Anyone who challenges how he dealt with the unrest got deselected,” Bhatia said.

Bhatia noted that he was perturbed by comments made by the mayor blaming the riots on “ideologies associated with particular views about racial and religious groups in India”.

He further claimed that the mayor was trying to create a council of “yes men”.

“It is disappointing that some of those who failed to meet the expected standard have immediately joined other political parties in Leicester. This is pure political opportunism,” a party source told TOI.


Courtesy/Source: FirstPost