Harsh times are not of course harsh for everyone. For many, particularly those who are willing to sacrifice their principles, they bring fresh opportunities. The Labour MP from Ealing Southall, Virendra Sharma is one such. He seems to have opted to do away with his principles altogether and follow the well Vaselined path in the footsteps of his fellow MP Keith Vaz. Looking at it another way he is now a fully-fledged supporter of Hindutva fascism under #ModiRaj.
This is why Sharma is the third in our ‘Name and Shame’ list after Barry Gardiner and Keith Vaz – our list, like the lists of X Factor contestants, is ‘in no particular order’.
Sharma’s Modi-fication started a couple of years back. He had started his political career (back in 2007) proclaiming that he would represent all the communities in his constituency but in November 2013 he did a neat U-Turn and became the Vice President of the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Hindus. There is of course nothing wrong with that on the face of it.
The problem is that the APPG does not really represent British Hindus. It represents the right-wing Hindu groups organised under the banner of Hindutva or Hindu fascism. One of its main areas of interest appears to be ‘Justice in Kashmir’. Its discussions, however, make no mention of the grave injustices experienced by the people who actually live in Kashmir. Nothing about the fact that Indian soldiers and paramilitaries can, and do, rape and murder with impunity or that thousands of unmarked graves lie in the countryside, or that disappearances and ‘encounter killings’ are commonplace. The APPG for British Hindus seems to be interested exclusively in the fate of Kashmiri Hindus (or Pandits) and the possibility of their return to the Kashmir valley.
Working alongside Sharma as the secretary of the APPG is Jayesh Jotangia, a man whose twitter feed demonstrates his admiration for, and closeness to, the RSS, the paramilitary organisation modelled on the Nazi party, which is at the core of Hindu fascism.
And on another level, his position against the Britain’s anti- caste discrimination legislation.
Sadly for Sharma, his desire to be a faithful follower of Modi and Hindutva has not always been taken seriously by his new-found friends. Some Hindutva supporters have even viewed his declarations with something like contempt – the website Kapil’s Kichadi commenting, for example, as recently as September last year, that while it was interesting to hear Sharma say, “‘Jammu and Kashmir are a full and integral part of India’, adding, ‘We don’t want to be branded or tarnished with the same brush as these other communities that do improper things’. .. he is someone who in the past has often let our community down. So time will tell if he means what he says, or whether he takes advantage of opportunities to make speeches for votes and publicity”.
Perhaps it was this type of scornful suspicion which made Sharma do a number of other U-turns which may have left a less shameless man embarrassed. He had, for example, in summer this year, signed the parliamentary Early Day Motion 257 which express concern about the Human Rights violations in India, but on second thoughts ‘withdrew’ his signature. Around the same time he also began to cancel previously confirmed Parliamentary meetings critical of Modi.
More recently, Sharma has gone even further to prove that he is a genuine Modi Toady – he has joined Keith Vaz and Steve Pound in declaring that he will donate his November pay rise to the cultural extravaganza for Narendra Modi in Wembley. Even a petition urging him to give his money to food banks in this country, or to those traumatised families in India who have lost their loved ones and their homes and livelihoods as a result of Hindutva violence, has not made him change his mind or provide any justification for his actions.
However, Sharma may well end up regretting his ‘love-bombing’ of Modi. His constituents are making it clear that they are angry about his political acrobatics – they are due to protest outside his office about ‘his refusal to justify his position or act with integrity’.