Leading Hindu groups – including the UK branch of the RSS – have hailed the “connect“ outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron established with the community during his six-year tenure.
Often seen in temples sporting a ‘tilak’ or visiting gurdwaras during elections with his wife Samantha, Cameron wooed the community since taking over as Conservative Party leader in 2005 as part of efforts to wean it away from its traditional support to Labour.
In a letter to Cameron on Tuesday, leaders of the Hindu Forum of Britain, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, National Hindu Students Forum and National Council of Hindu Temples suggested he had been the most Hindu-friendly premier in Britain.
“(We) have no hesitation in expressing how effectively you ‘connected’ with our ethics, principles and our ethos of working hard…It is unquestionable that during your period of office, you have established probably the best relationship that the Hindu community and the Conservative Party have had to date,” the letter said.
Amid charges that Cameron adhered to a selective view of the Indian community which privileged the Hindu community to the exclusion of Indian Muslims or Indian Christians, he was also criticised for being allegedly influenced by the Hindu lobby on the issue of outlawing caste-based discrimination in British law.
The letter also hailed Cameron’s interest in Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who faced a boycott from Britain as Gujarat chief minister for more than a decade after the 2002 riots. The boycott was lifted by the Cameron government in 2013. Cameron introduced Modi during a large diaspora event at Wembley Stadium during the Indian leader's November visit.
The letter said: “Your contribution in recognising the pivotal importance of PM Modi’s election, your support and groundbreaking participation in the Wembley event, your determination to ‘set in cement’ the foundations of this relationship will also be recognised in the years ahead.”
It added, “While others of ‘differing’ vision were unable to accord PM Modi appropriate courtesies, you were clear in your acceptance and recognition and were significantly responsible in rightly welcoming him to the community of global leaders.”
As Tory leader, Cameron participated in a large gathering in Leicester addressed by spiritual leader Morari Bapu. His overtures to the Hindu community over the years were credited for increasing support to the Conservatives in the 2010 and 2015 elections.