London: As British Indian households prepare for Navratri, Diwali and the New Year, I am extremely pleased that this country will also be welcoming the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to London in November. I know that many of you are extremely excited by this historic visit and I absolutely share this enthusiasm. I am very much looking forward to playing my part, as the Member of Parliament representing a large local population with origins in the Indian subcontinent and surrounding countries, in welcoming Modi to this country and highlighting the enormous role played by the Indian diaspora in British life.
We are all keen to hear Mr Modi reflect on the close ties between our nations at Wembley on Hindu New Year day. I am immensely proud of the strong friendship between Britain and India and I want to see closer ties for the long term mutual benefit of each. This has been made possible by the leadership of David Cameron, our Prime Minister, who ensured that it was a Conservative government, who welcomed PM Modi to the UK, making special efforts to build the friendship between two nations which have so much common history and values.
We must not forget that David Cameron is the only British Prime Minister to have been to India three times since first forming a government in 2010 and he was also the first Prime Minster of this nation to appoint an Indian Diaspora Champion, my talented colleague Rt Hon Priti Patel MP, in order to fully establish Britain’s commitment to India.
Those who followed the recent British General Election will recall the very famous Hindi campaign song, Neela Hai Aaasma released by the Conservative party’s Friends of India team; a first ever by any British political party, demonstrating how much the British Indian community is valued by the party.
It may have been forgotten by many, but certainly not by all, that in September 2013, the current leader of the Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn, supported a push for the diplomatic ban on Narendra Modi to be reinstituted by signing an Early Day Motion co-sponsored by his colleagues, former MP George Galloway, Alan Meale MP, Roger Godsiff and John McDonnell. This ban was actually instituted by the Labour government, but was lifted by the Conservative government in 2012, and quite rightly so in my view.
In representing Harrow East, a constituency with one of the largest populations of people who originate from the Gujarat region in the UK, I know that PM Modi’s visit is even more cause for celebration due to his close ties with the area. It may have been forgotten by many, but certainly not by all, that in September 2013, the current leader of the Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn, supported a push for the diplomatic ban on Narendra Modi to be reinstituted by signing an Early Day Motion co-sponsored by his colleagues, former MP George Galloway, Alan Meale MP, Roger Godsiff and John McDonnell. This ban was actually instituted by the Labour government, but was lifted by the Conservative government in 2012, and quite rightly so in my view.
There are many synergies between India and UK including that in the vision of the current leadership of the two countries. The Make in India initiative has opened up opportunities for British Indian entrepreneurs to invest in India and has helped enhance trade relations between the two countries, accentuating our British Commonwealth partnerships. With a focus on self-reliance and hard work, both nations have recognised the potential of the bilateral trade, technology and defence partnerships. David Cameron and Narendra Modi have both taken a strong stand against extremism and terrorism, including what Cameron recently referred to as “passive tolerance” to an ideology, which instils hate and destruction. The British government under the Conservatives has also been extremely clear in backing India’s bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.
I believe that PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Britain now, at a time when we finally have a strong majority Conservative government in place, is a sign of a new era of partnership and support between our nations. It is more important than ever for our commitment to shared values and security to be put on display for the entire world to see, through the coming together of our leaders. I have no doubt that, by working together, our two great nations will ensure one great future lies ahead for all of us.
Bob Blackman is the Conservative MP for Harrow East and presently serves as Joint Secretary of the prestigious 1922 Committee within Parliament. As Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Hindus, Bob provides a platform for British Hindus to engage with Parliament.