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Racist Slur Angers Rishi Sunak, Offer Prayer at BAPS Temple

Racist Slur Angers Rishi Sunak, Offer Prayer at BAPS Temple

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NEW DELHI, June 30: The British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has expressed his anger on a racist slur directed at him by a supporter of Nigel Farage’s right-wing Reform UK party even as the party founder leader promptly distanced himself and the party from the objectionable comment.

The incident was brought to light by a news channel, which aired a recording of a Reform UK party campaigner Andrew Parker using the derogatory term “Paki,” a racial slur aimed at people of South Asian descent, in front of his daughters Krishna and Anoushka.

Mr Sunak, Britain’s first ethnic minority prime minister, addressing the media on his election campaign trail, said, “It hurts, and it makes me angry. I don’t repeat those words lightly. I do so deliberately because this is too important not to call out clearly for what it is.”

“When you see Reform candidates and campaigners, seemingly using racist and misogynistic language and opinions seemingly without challenge, I think it tells you something about the culture within the Reform Party,” the 44-year-old added.

Farage, leader of the Reform UK party, condemned the remarks as “appalling” and distanced himself from Parker’s comments. Farage, running for Parliament, noted that a few individuals had “let us down” and that such sentiments did not reflect the views of the party or its supporters. “The appalling sentiments expressed by some in these exchanges bear no relation to my own views, those of the vast majority of our supporters or Reform UK,” Farage said in a statement.

Reform UK, campaigning on an anti-immigration platform, has faced challenges vetting candidates due to the early election call. Despite these issues, Farage remains optimistic about gaining a foothold in Parliament, positioning his party as the “real” opposition to the anticipated Labour government.

According to the anti-racism organisation Hope Not Hate, Reform UK has had to withdraw 166 candidates since the beginning of the year, many of whom have made racist or offensive remarks.

Mr Sunak warned voters that supporting Reform UK could inadvertently benefit the Labour Party, which he criticised for its tax policies. He also rebuked Farage for comments suggesting that Western actions provoked Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, calling such statements damaging and appeasing to Vladimir Putin.

Meanwhile, Mr Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty on the last weekend of the general election campaign prayed at London’s iconic BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir, popularly known as Neasden Temple.

The couple was greeted with loud cheers as its convoy drove into the grand temple grounds on Saturday evening and went on to perform puja guided by the priests. After a tour of the grand temple complex and interaction with volunteers and community leaders, cricket fan Mr Sunak began his address to the congregation with a reference to India’s winning the T20 World Cup before speaking about the inspiration he draws from his faith.

“I am Hindu and like all of you, I draw inspiration and comfort from my faith,” he said. “I was proud to be sworn in as a member of parliament on the ‘Bhagavad Gita.’ Our faith teaches us to do our duty and not fret about the outcome as long as one does it faithfully.”

“That is what I was brought up to believe by my wonderful and loving parents and that is how I live my life; and that is what I want to pass on to my daughters as they grow up. It is dharma which guides me in my approach to public service,” Mr Sunak said.

The UK will go to the polls on July 4.

(Manas Dasgupta)



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