Ms Rajul Tejura, Keith Vaz, and the Role of Extremism in the North Evington By-Election

Part of the reason for Leicester’s recent violence owes to the longstanding tensions that exist between far-right Hindu nationalists and the Muslim population of our city. These local problems have intensified in past years, in part, because of the divisive politics of the former Labour MP for Leicester East, Keith Vaz, a politician who has acted as a prominent cheerleader for Narendra Modi and his far-right government: an authoritarian government that continues to oppress the working-class and furiously stoke communal violence in India.

Vaz of course may no longer be an MP, but he still holds great sway over local politics, all the more so because the elected MP for Leicester East (Claudia Webbe) has been suspended from the Labour Party. Thus, Vaz has now positioned himself as the “campaign manager” for a local by-election that is taking place in North Evington where he is standing a candidate, who like himself, is a firm believer in the divisive and violent policies of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

This controversial by-election, which is scheduled to take place on October 13, follows the August 26 resignation of one of the three Labour councillors in the North Evington ward (Vandevi Pandya). Cllr Pandya’s Labour proposed replacement in this instance being Ms Rajul Tejura, an individual who in 2019 organised a party in Leicester to celebrate Modi’s electoral victory — with other key celebrants including Vaz and Cllr Rashmikant Joshi (a longstanding Labour councillor for North Evington).

Considering the politically charged circumstances surrounding this by-election, Ms Rajul Tejura is arguably the worse type of candidate to be representing the Labour Party. But in keeping with Mr Vaz’s own discomfort with democratic processes, it seems that Ms Tejura has been ‘selected’ by Vaz in a way that has totally bypassed the views of Labour members living in Leicester. And while it may be too late to stop Vaz’s divisive candidate from standing on October 13, Labour members should definitely lodge a formal complaint about what has happened to do their best to stop Vaz in the future: complaints@labour.org.uk

In the meantime, Labour voters and supporters, whether religious or not, should stand together in refusing to support Vaz’s dangerous games being played out on our doorsteps, and should instead support the only socialist who is standing in the North Evington by-election, that person being Tessa Warrington, who is representing the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.

A Note About Modi’s Government

To get a flavour of the type of reactionary politics promoted by Modi’s government – a government which should be opposed by every socialist — then one could turn to a conservative source known as the “Counter Extremism Project”. In one of their articles on India they draw attention to the problem of “Hindu extremism” noting:

The Hindu nationalist movement in India––collectively known as the Sangh Parivar––emerged in response to colonialism in the 1920s. It aims to ensure the predominance of Hinduism in Indian culture and society and seeks to drive out religious minorities from the country, claiming that Hindus are threatened by growing Muslim and Christian populations. The movement, which is comprised of several affiliate organizations, has encouraged and utilized violent tactics against these religious minorities. The Sangh Parivar’s principal organization, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), is a paramilitary organization with millions of members…

“RSS’s political wing, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is the largest political party in India. BJP member Narendra Modi has served as India’s prime minister since the party won India’s national elections in 2014. The party has attempted to pass laws banning conversions from Hinduism and restricting the rights of religious minorities. The BJP has also permitted state authorities to excuse, facilitate, and at times even participate in violence against religious minorities. For example, mobs that conducted anti-Muslim riots in the state of Gujarat in 2002 that killed more than 1,000 people were found to be in possession of lists of homes and businesses that could only have been acquired from government sources. State authorities and police reportedly “stood by or joined in” during acts of violence, which included dismemberment and burning people alive. State authorities also reportedly impeded the subsequent prosecutions. For example, one 19-year-old girl stated to media sources that she had “testified falsely [in a trial] after Hindu politicians repeatedly threatened her family.” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was previously the chief minister of Gujarat, has also been accused of allowing the riots to take place.”

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One comment

  1. check out the interview with Ben Jackson on BBC Radio Leicester on 08.09.22 at 3.39.38. This interview is with a mother whose son was beaten up when he saw a young man running away and went to check up on him. He was met by a group who said, “Are you a Muslim?” When he said yes, they beat him up badly. The mother doesn’t think the police are investigating properly. The police say this incident is still under investigation.

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