Abhishek Bachchan to Bollywood songs - parties turn to Indian flavour in UK poll campaign
London, May 3: Besides the closest election battle, the May 7 general election in Britain is also set to go down in history as the one with the most Indian flavour.
From the release of a Bollywood-style campaign song singing the praises of Prime Minister David Cameron in Hindi to visits to gurdwaras and temples across Britain, all major parties are doing their best to woo the nearly 1.5 million Indian Diaspora based in the country.
Even Bollywood actor Abhishek Bachchan was roped in by one of Britain's longest serving Indian origin MPs, Keith Vaz, who attracted large crowds in his constituency of Leicester recently.
As NRI industrialist Lord Swraj Paul points out, these are all attempts to sway every last vote. "Indians look at which party does the best for the whole community.
So far, the record of the Labour Party has been better. But ultimately every little helps when you are desperate, and Mr Cameron needs all the help at the moment," he said, predicting a tough battle ahead for the ruling Conservative party.
"We are most definitely headed for a hung parliament, all that remains to be seen is which way it will all hang," the chairman of the Caparo Group said. Indians form the largest migrant group in the UK and there are an estimated 615,000 migrant Indian voters by virtue of their Commonwealth citizenship.
This number does not include the British-born children of Indian migrants, who largely tend to vote independently of the political allegiances first-generation migrants.
Therefore, while traditionally Indians have tended to favour the Labour Party, the battlefield is wide open as far as the second generation is concerned who often tend to align with the ruling Tories. Another London-based Indian business tycoon, G P Hinduja, points out that Indians don't vote as a bloc.
"They, like other voters, will vote for the party that promises the best deal," he feels. But the slight edge for Cameron in the latest opinion polls today might mean that efforts like launching a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in London's Parliament Square and fielding the largest number of Indian-origin candidates (12) could ultimately pay off.
Today's YouGov poll for for 'The Sunday Times' puts the Conservatives on 34 per cent, one point ahead of Labour — a reversal of recent surveys. A second poll by Opinium also put the Tories one point in front, suggesting that the momentum is with Cameron.
Senior Tories say Cameron is planning to declare victory if he gets the most seats and votes in Thursday's election.
He is expected to give a statement in Downing Street on Friday if the Tories are "clearly the largest party" — forcing Ed Miliband to strike a deal with the Scottish National party (SNP) to bring him down.