I can’t claim to be an expert on the politics of British Hinduism. Nor do I know a lot about the National Council of Hindu Temples – according to its website it represents 300 such temples in the UK, and is the “oldest UK-wide Hindu organisation”.
It is a charity and thus can only go so far in its comments on politics but a statement it issued yesterday is quite attention-grabbing.
Here are some extracts:
“On the basis of a sequence of acts of religious persecution of British Hindus detailed below, by the Parliamentary Labour party, we confirm that we wholly understand the sentiment recently expressed by one of our younger volunteers, who stated that “British Hindus, Sikhs & Jains voting for Labour is now like Turkeys voting for Christmas”.”
“…many many meetings have taken place between the Hindu, Sikh & Jain communities and also with members of the Conservative Government who have acted openly and rationally with our requests. Labour have repeatedly refused to either explain or justify their position and have repeatedly refused to engage with our communities. I have personally approached the leader of the opposition, Hon Ed Miliband at receptions in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office on two occasions and having expressed the severity of the issue, was promised that his office would arrange an urgent meeting but there has been no follow up and subsequent approaches have been summarily rejected or ignored.”
“this legislation has been instigated, supported and sustained by the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrat party and both are now on record as confirming that they will bring this legislation into force immediately.”
“This is NOT a recommendation for members of the Dharmic communities to vote for a particular Party but it would be unfair not to recognise that the Conservative party is the only principal party which has rejected the process whereby this legislation was forced thru, the Conservative Party is the only party which has consistently listened to us and voted against this legislation and whose members are committed to repealing the Caste amendment if re-elected.”
Fortunately, communitarian politics has never really gained a foothold in the UK, and the NCHT are undoubtedly right not to direct the members of their congregations how to vote.
Nonetheless, this does seem quite a significant political moment. Evidently there have been some behind the scenes successes in building relations between the Conservative Party and some Hindu organisations.
As well as a general exhortation to vote, the statement also goes on to say that “British Hindus should re-consider habitual allegiances and compare the past ideal with the present reality.” Let us hope many do.