Campaign by UK units of Indian political parties gathers steam

Vidya Ram London | Updated on March 13, 2019 Published on March 13, 2019

Indian Oversees Congress, Overseas Friends of the BJP to hold car rallies on Saturday

Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the overseas wings of the main political parties have swung into action to garner support from the sizable Indian diaspora in the UK.

Both the Indian Overseas Congress and the Overseas Friends of the BJP are set to hold car rallies across parts the UK the coming Saturday, among other events.

The Overseas Friends of the BJP has already kicked off its events, including a motorcycle rally earlier this week, while car rallies will take place across the UK including in Birmingham, Glasgow and central London on Saturday, with a convoy of over 100 cars, while in early April “flash mob,” event is planned for central London.

Later that month, they are planning a “call for Modi,” to encourage members of the diaspora to make calls to friends and family in India to encourage them to support the Prime Minister. “We have 2,700 people who have registered to say they may want to travel to India to campaign for the Prime Minister,” said the organisation’s UK head Kuldeep Shekhawat, of a recently-launched programme.

He said their awareness-raising campaign would focus on development, corruption-less administration and “image building of the country.”

The IOC is set to hold a road show — involving over 100 cars — that will pass through some of the major Indian diaspora areas around London, Leicester, Birmingham, Coventry and Slough — said Sudhakar Rangula an IOC UK spokesperson.

“We are going to encourage people to come out and support us and expect a prominent leader from within the party to join us,” he said. Further events are set to take place within the various UK branches of the organisation dotted across the UK, while the student wing is set to hold events of its own. “Our message will be around the failures of the government and all the promises that were made but not delivered on…not least the threat to our democracy posed by them. We want to motivate all of the diaspora irrespective of their political inclination to support us in this.”

Totalling around 1.4 million — including British-born Indians and Indian citizens — the British Indian diaspora is the largest in Europe, and among the most wealthy and influential globally — with many occupying senior positions across sectors from politics to business, making it an important focus area in the campaign.

Both party leaders have visited the UK in the past year — during a visit to London for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit and bilateral meetings, Modi attended a large diaspora event in central London, while Rahul Gandhi visited in August, speaking at a diaspora event in West London.

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Published on March 13, 2019
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