The all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on British Gujaratis formed to focus on pertinent issues concerning the community in the UK has been met with resistance. The public launch of the APPG is scheduled on April 25, 2023, according to a UK news portal.
But British Indian organisations have vociferously opposed the APPG, calling it a threat to the cohesiveness of British Indians. A national daily has reported that British Indian organisations have written to the APPG’s chair, Labour MP Gareth Thomas, who represents Harrow West, which boasts a substantial number of Gujarati community, calling for the APPG’s disbandment.
Alleging that they were not consulted about APPG’s formation, British Indians have cautioned that it could divide the Indian community. Gujaratis, they insist, are well-integrated in Britain and that a formation of such a group is uncalled for.
The daily has quoted FISI (Friends of India Society International) UK’s letter as saying: “We view this attempt to create an APPG solely for Gujaratis as an attack on the unity of the British Indian community and also on India that has stood for ‘unity in diversity.’ Such mala fide attempts at creating strife within the wider Indian community need to be discouraged.”
“We must remain as one community and avoid being subdivided into numerous ethnic groups. The policy of divide and rule, which was used to maintain colonial control in India, serves as a warning of the dangers of fragmentation,” part of a letter from president Bimal Patel reads. “There is growing concern that the community may be at risk of being divided into numerous ethnic groups, as has been the case in India.”
Meanwhile, Thomas has said that he wanted to address the objections in a non-party political way. He was quoted as saying, “The first issue that has been raised is the decision to shift, without apparently any consultation, direct London-to-Gujarat flights from Heathrow to Gatwick.” But he added that the APPG enjoyed considerable support across the Gujarati community.
However, the voices of dissent are growing louder.
“This will not be appreciated by the Indian community in the UK,” a letter from Hindu Council UK states.
“We are astonished that any parliamentarian would think of creating an APPG to serve the interest of just one community from India would be a good idea,” reads a letter by Trupti Patel, president of Hindu Forum Britain.
The daily also quoted Dhiraj Shah, president of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), UK, as saying: “This action by parliamentarians will not be appreciated by the government of India, which will view it as divisive.”
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