New Delhi: UK MP Bob Blackman, of the ruling Conservative Party, has written to the chairman of the party raising concerns against a group being announced in the party called “conservative friends of Kashmir” which may have long term implication especially on the large Indian diaspora.
In the letter, he asked the party to clarify that the group is “not an officially recognized body and has no links to the party” and therefore cannot use party logo or branding. The official stance of the Conservative party and UK government on Kashmir is that is a bilateral matter between India and Pakistan.
Highlighting the impact to the party, in his letter to Chairman Amanda Milling, Bob said, “creation of this ‘conservative friends’ group….risks alienating the diaspora that we have worked so hard and for so long, to cultivate and encourage to switch to our party. I cannot emphasize enough how emotive this issue is to our Indian diaspora”.
Milling is the chairman of the conservative party along with Ben Elliot and the role of the Chairman is party administration.
Bob elaborated that “creation of the so-called conservative friends of Kashmir will cause severe tensions” between the already existing groups–conservative friends of India and conservative friends of Pakistan and “alienate a large percentage of voters”.
In the recent UK general election, the Indian diaspora shifted from Labour Party to Conservative due to the former’s stance on Kashmir. Infact the decision taken at Labour party conference on Kashmir, which was seen as considerably anti-India, led to switching of allegiance of the British Indians to Conservatives.
The UK MP in the letter said, “As we approach our party’s conference this year, we must now follow the same path as the Labour party last year and risk alienating a large section of voters.”
He explained, “Jammu and Kashmir is internationally recognized as a state of India and we do not have any other “conservative friends” that represent other areas of India…party policy is that the security in Jammu and Kashmir is an internal matter for India and you know that I have previously written to PM regarding the issue and he reiterated party policy on Jammu and Kashmir both in writing and also on the floor of the house of commons.”
Bob Blackman is the vice-chairman of the conservative friends of India and the Chairman and vice-chairman of a number of All-Party Parliamentary groups related to India.