Far from the cut and thrust of Indian politics, supporters and opponents of Narendra Modi have been engaged in a sustained war of words – in the House of Commons, British universities and even on the streets of London.
Modi supporters – mostly Indian students and young professionals who moved to Britain in recent years – have formed a 'Modi Tea Club' and recently offered tea to passersby in Hounslow, Wembley and Queensbury while holding large posters of Modi.
Last week, pro- and anti-Modi groups clashed during an event titled 'Narendra Modi & the Rise of Hindu Fascism' at a room in the House of Commons. Speakers included Yusuf Dawood, a British Gujarati whose two brothers died in the 2002 riots.
The event was supported by Labour MP John McDonnell and Mumbai-born British sculptor Anish Kapoor, who said in a message: "We are in a moment of great danger and your call to our sense of justice is much needed".
At the same event, the Awaaz Network and Monitoring Group released a report titled 'Narendra Modi Exposed: Challenging the Myths Surrounding the BJP's Prime Ministerial Candidate' that questioned the "clean-chit" given to Modi by courts.
The event did not go down well with a section of MPs, particularly those whose constituencies include large population of Indian origin. Bob Blackman, Conservative MP (Harrow East), said during a debate in the House of Commons: "It appears that opponents of Modi will stop at nothing to smear him, including using rooms in this House to publish thoroughly scurrilous reports".
On March 3, Nishrin Jafri Hussain, daughter of former MP Ehsan Jafri, who was killed during the 2002 riots in Gulbarg society, is scheduled to speak on the experience of women rape survivors in Gujarat at the LSE's Gender Institute.
Modi Tea Club organisers have now invited Londoners to join 'Chai pe Charcha with NaMo' on March 8, when Modi is scheduled to speak to supporters through videolink.