Labour Party criticised over lack of Indian general election candidates
Labour risks taking the support of Indian voters for granted by failing to select more general election candidates from the community.
Campaigners hit out after Claudia Webbe, a close ally of Jeremy Corbyn, was chosen to replace Keith Vaz as the party's candidate in Leicester East.
PoliticsHome understands that party officials fear the decision could put the seat at risk, despite Labour regaining it in 2017 with a 22,000 majority.
Sundip Meghani, who lost out to Ms Webbe in the battle to be the Labour candidate, has accused the party of "nepotism" over the decision.
He said: "It sends entirely the wrong message and is an insult to the people I come from. It shows just how little the Labour party values and respects the Indian community, particularly Hindus and Sikhs."
In a statement, Labour Friends of India said: "The Labour Party has traditionally enjoyed very loyal support of the Indian community. Over 50% of Indians living in the UK voted Labour in 2017 according to the Runnymede Trust.
"We express our regret that the Labour Party has selected just one candidate of Indian heritage in 39 safe Labour seats, and no Indian heritage candidate in 100 target seats. There are five Labour MPs of Indian heritage who are seeking re-election.
"Nav Mishra contesting Stockport is likely to become Labour’s only new Indian-heritage MP. With the retirement of Keith Vaz this means there will be zero increase in the number of Indian-heritage Labour MPs.
"Furthermore, despite NEC panels shortlisting or even selecting candidates in areas with a large Indian community such as Leicester, Ealing, Ilford, West Bromwich and Derby, no Indian heritage candidates were selected. Despite making representations on this matter, our calls have been ignored."
The group said relations between Labour and the Indian community were "already strained" over an emergency motion passed on Kashmir at the party's annual conference.
"The Labour Party must ensure it is never seen to take the support of the Indian community for granted," they added.
"We will not be commenting further on this matter until after the election, but please be rest assured that we will be campaigning for Labour candidates across the UK."
Meanwhile, a WhatsApp message being distributed in Leicester East calls on Indians living in the seat to vote Conservative "to teach Labour a lesson".
It says: "Keith Vaz has gone, but it seems the Labour Party is so full of itself that instead of choosing a local candidate more representative of the constituency's diverse population to run his seat they have selected a left wing, Corbyn sympathiser, Londoner, Claudia Webb to run in Leicester East .
"This is a slap in the face for Leicester East voters - particularly Indians/ Hindus and Sikhs as this candidate presided over the Labour conference recently when it passed the anti-India resolution about Kashmir.
"All decent, right thinking, sensible Leicester voters need to teach a lesson to Labour by not voting for her. Like the Jewish community, Hindus and Sikhs have to be bold and united to teach Labour a lesson. Don't be taken for granted and be trodden over."
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