PM hopeful Ed Miliband visits Gurudwara to woo Sikh voters
The leader of Britain's Opposition Labour has pitched for the Sikh vote by visiting a well-known gurudwara during his campaign trail.chandigarh Updated: Apr 13, 2015 20:03 IST
The leader of Britain's Opposition Labour has pitched for the Sikh vote by visiting a well-known gurudwara during his campaign trail.
Prime Ministerial hopeful Ed Miliband stopped over at the Leamington and Warwick Gurdwara in the town of Warwick, in the West Midlands region of England, this week where he was accused of banning journalists from entering the gurdwara, against the open-door policy of Sikh places of worship.
"They said there will be no cameras and were telling people not to even use their phones to take any pictures inside – that is unheard of inside a gurdwara," complained Davinder Singh, a spokesperson for the Sikh Federation UK.
However, the Labour Party has strenuously denied claims of a camera block-out as the visit was later telecast on the mainstream ITV news bulletin.
Those present at the event also pointed out that lots of people took pictures as well as selfies with Miliband, sporting a red headscarf - in line with the Labour party's symbol - to observe the tradition of head-covering while in a gurdwara.
"It is ridiculous and untrue to say that Ed Miliband did not want to be pictured at the Gurdwara.
"The visit to Leamington Gurdwara was widely covered by the national and Sikh press and many worshippers took pictures inside with Ed Miliband," a Labour party spokesperson said.
"In order to respect worshippers inside the prayer hall, Ed Miliband gave press interviews, including an interview with the Sikh Federation, outside the temple," she added.
Shalbinder Singh Malle, secretary of the Leamington and Warwick Gurdwara, also dismissed any controversy and said worshippers were not offended in any way.
"It went smoothly and we felt it was a success. We were told not to take pictures and one or two people may have been disappointed but I wouldn't say anyone was upset or offended by it. No one complained," he said.
During the 45-minute visit, Miliband listened to Sikh hymns and served langar to members of the congregation and the temple's committee.
There is an estimated 500,000-strong Sikh voters in the UK.
"For Ed to visit the temple is good news for Sikhs in Leamington and Warwick. It is a landmark and a place where equality is one of the key principles," said Jagtar Singh Gill, a member of the gurdwara committee.
Miliband's visit came weeks after British Prime Minister David Cameron stopped over at the same gurdwara, adorning a blue head scarf - reflective of the Conservative party.
Both main political parties - defined by their trademark red (Labour) and blue (Conservative) - are keen to attract the crucial immigrant vote for the May 7 general elections, which is likely to prove the deciding factor in a number of constituencies in one of the closest UK elections in decades.