Firstly, Hindu Council UK (HCUK) would like to congratulate Sir Keir Starmer on becoming the new Labour party Leader taking over from Mr Corbyn.
We welcomed the opportunity to hold our first meeting with the new leadership on 30th April 2020. Present from the Labour party were leader Sir Keir Starmer, deputy leader Ms Angela Rayner, Shadow Minister for Faith Ms Janet Daby, Mr Navedu Mishra MP and Baroness Doreen Lawrence. HCUK were represented by Co-Chair Mr Umesh Sharma and General Secretary Mr Rajnish Kashyap.
Various issues were discussed during the call including the omission of any HCUK representatives at a meeting conducted by Baroness Lawrence in which leaders from various Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups were invited. An apology was issued for this exclusion and Sir Keir emphasised that his team were fully aware of the concerns and the issues which have been building up recently. It was highlighted by the leader that there is still much to do and achieve between the Labour party and HCUK as the relationship diminished under previous leadership. Sir Starmer aims to rebuild this important relationship with the Hindu community, and thanked HCUK’s willingness to work with the Labour party by addressing all the issues concerning the community.
HCUK also raised the subject of the COVID 19 pandemic and how it is disproportionately impacting people from BAME backgrounds in Britain. We offered assistance from the Hindu community which compromises of very experienced people in industries ranging from Medical, IT, and Pharmaceuticals who can assist the panel in managing this crisis. Sir Keir was welcoming of the suggestion and also acknowledged this disproportion impact COVID 19 is having on Asian communities.
The key issue of Kashmir was also raised during the meeting. Sir Keir said he would ensure Labour did not use the dispute on the subcontinent to “divide our communities in the UK” and that a Labour government under his leadership would build “even stronger links with India”. Mr Umesh Sharma sees this as a promising shift in Labour’s stand on Kashmir which will benefits both countries. Sir Keir expressed and reiterated his willingness and desire to work closely with the HCUK in the future on all issues raised.
We look forward to building a relationship with the Labour party that is built on trust and open dialogue. Our aim is, has been, and always will be, to represent and protect all Hindus across the UK.
Mr Rajnish Kashyap