Large sections of the British Indian community have fallen so “deeply in love” with David Cameron post the Narendra Modi visit that they are going to urge him to serve a third term as prime minister.
They are overwhelmed by the unstinting support Cameron has shown for the visiting Indian prime minister, especially as the left, led by one or two newspapers, have kept attacking Modi.
In an exclusive interview with Eastern Eye, Cameron’s diaspora champion Priti Patel slammed the left for being wholly negative about Modi.
“There is a real lack of understanding of the new India under Narendra Modi and the types of partnership he is forging with Britain,” said Patel, who accompanied Cameron and Modi to many of their meetings.
She also accused the left of failing to appreciate the importance of the Indian diaspora, which is 1.6 million according to official figures, but whose size is realistically estimated at 2.3 million-2.5 million.
“This is one of the largest diasporas in the world,” stressed Patel.
Reflecting British Indian sentiment, businessman Dr Rami Ranger said of Cameron: “He is one of us. No British prime minister could do more for India.”
If what Dr Ranger is saying is true, then the left has badly damaged Labour’s chances of winning the next general election.
“If an election had been held among the 60,000 Indians at Wembley,” estimated Dr Ranger, “sixty per cent would have voted Tory.”
Even allowing for Indian exaggeration, there might be something in Dr Ranger’s analysis that as far as British Indian voters are concerned, “Wembley was a game changer.”
Dr Ranger was touched when Cameron brought Modi over to him in Parliament Square, where the Indian prime minister arrived to pay homage to Gandhi, and said: “He’s one of our star businessman.”
In typical Indian fashion, Ranger told Modi: “You have cost me a lot of money!”
Ranger: “You have made my chest expand by 4” so I have to get a new suit!”
A delighted Modi gave Dr Ranger a friendly push, while Cameron beamed.
Patel said much the same thing in a different way, as she analysed the results of Modi’s UK visit.
“The Indian diaspora is hugely significant for prime minister Modi,” argued Patel.
“If it wasn’t significant, he wouldn’t have come to Wembley and we wouldn’t have organised the event. The demand for Modi to engage with the diaspora was absolutely phenomenal.”
According to Patel, the left still has not understood that the UK-India relationship is now partly driven by the Indian diaspora in the UK. Some go so far as to say that to insult Modi is to insult a large part of the British Indian community – and this could prove fatal for the Labour party.
There is also now “a very, very personal relationship” between the two prime ministers.
Patel said: “I spoke to a lot of people after Wembley and they feel David Cameron lives and breathes our values basically. Let us not forget that David Cameron has been very clear about his relationship with India. The campaign he is building and his rapport with Modi is very personal for him.”
Patel, who is also employment minister in the department of work and pensions, spoke of her own role as diaspora champion – a position that was created for her by Cameron. That a big part of the diaspora happens to be of Gujarati origin has helped Patel – and Cameron.
“This definitely strengthens the ties,” acknowledged Patel.
To be sure, as prime minister Modi has to represent all Indians. But as Patel pointed out: “When you have such a large Gujarati community in the UK, that obviously connects with Modi.”
But since relations between nation states have to be based on deeper interests, Patel highlighted some of the business agreements when she spoke on Tuesday (17) at the Bloomberg Policy India Summit on UK-India bilateral trade.
“This visit showcased the world’s oldest democracy alongside the world’s largest democracy,” she said. “The UK and India already share a deep partnership based on shared values and as we all saw on Friday evening – the exceptional people-to people links.”
She went on: “What stood out for me throughout the duration of this visit was the natural affinity between our two countries, rooted in the Indian diaspora in Britain that has contributed so richly to British life, success and identity.
“Our people-to-people ties, between British Indians and Indians have been strengthened as a result of prime minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the UK. Ours is also a natural partnership for a mutually shared prosperity,” she added.
“The reinforcement of our bilateral trade in goods and services, and acknowledging the valuable contributions made by skilled workers to both countries’ economies has been prominent,” Patel pointed out.
“This visit has truly been a vibrant illustration of the partnership and the commitment with have to India. As we heard at Wembley on Friday night we are indeed two great nations with one glorious future.”