Manoj Ladwa and Vikas Pota describe themselves as ‘Goodwill Ambassadors’ in this latest ‘Barry Gardiner-Modi – I scratch your back, you scratch mine’ saga. What they fail to mention is that both were founders of a firm called ‘Saffron’ Chase which is a Government Relations (aka Lobbying) and PR Firm – Modi’s UK counterpart of APCO – the only difference is that this one is a front of RSS. There’s is a ten year old game plan to somehow get Modi acceptance in UK parliament after Modi was first shunned by them because of his alleged involvement in the state sponsored riots of 2002 in Gujarat.
Saffron Chases’s services were first used by the BJP led NDA Government back in 2001. In an unusual privatization of Indian diplomacy, Saffron Chase was engaged by the Indian High Commission in UK in 2001 to deal with the Labour Party on its behalf through the Labour Friends of India group. So why did the NDA Government use a private entity to deal with the Labour Party?
The reason is that both Manoj and Vikas are prominent members of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), the British Wing of RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) and Sewa International which is a funding machine for RSS/HSS. Sewa International collects millions of pounds in funds from the British public in the name of charity and on the pretext of humanitarian relief – this included Gujarat earthquake in 2001 and the Orissa cyclone in 1999. These funds are channeled to India through Sewa Bharati, a RSS affiliate.
Saffron Chase’s first attempt (March 2005) to get Modi into UK was when they invited him to Royal Albert Hall on the occassion of Gujarati Day. However a terror-stricken Modi called off his visit as he feared arrest by a London magistrate. At that time, the British Government had been petitioned by two mothers, Ayesha and Rabia Dawood, from Batley, West Yorkshire, for justice for their two sons, Shakheel and Sayed Dawood, who were killed in the Gujarat riots. The two Dawood cousins were on holiday in India, and were dragged from their jeep by a mob 45 miles from Ahmedabad. The driver was also killed. The Dawood family solicitor, London-based Imran Khan, had announced in a public meeting that he would get arrest warrants against Modi as soon as he sets foot on British soil.
However the event at Royal Albert Hall did take place sans Modi and a size-able audience of 5000 showed up for the event where in Modi was eulogised and a perception was created that Modi is the next big thing. It’s not surprising that Saffron Chase’s tagline is ‘Managing Perceptions’. Considering the small victory margins in British constituencies, the size of the audience at Royal Albert Hall indicated at mouth-watering numbers in Gujarati-heavy constituencies. That’s what started the vote bank politics – question was which party is going to appease the Muslims and which one is going to appease the Modi-fied Indians – a phenomenon partly fueled by Saffron Chase. The Labour Party led by Tony Blair decided to get closer to the Hindu Votes with their association with Saffron Chase. This also made the duo of Manoj and Vikas very popular with the Gujarati populace in UK. Through Labour Friends of India which the duo are part of, they also became Modi’s main contacts in Britain and have vocalized the case of Modi’s Gujarat Government in British Parliament ever since.
Through their association with the Labour Party, the duo of Manoj and Vikas started the next round of mobilisation in support of Modi in late 2008. With the backing of the Modi-fied vote bank that the duo had a strong influence on, they got close to a few Labour Party MPs, one of them being Barry Gardiner. Barry also chairs the Labour Friends of India. In late 2008, Barry Gardiner led an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons and garnered 117 signatures from British MPs in favour of ‘Vibrant Gujarat’. He followed this up with a visit to Vibrant Gujarat along with Manoj and Vikas in January 2009 and hailed Modi as the ‘Lion of Gujarat’. Unfortunately for them, Barry Gardiner was the sole representative as the British High Commissioner refused to oblige.
Soon after, Modi decided to return the favor by endorsing Barry Gardiner in Britain’s 2010 General Elections. Though Barry Gardiner managed to win the election, Labour Party did not come back to power.
Finally, now that Modi has to face the Election music in 2014, Barry has decided to help Modi’s cause by this faux invitation to Britain’s House of Commons. Modi and his supporters have been lauding this as an acceptance/endorsement by UK Government. However, as usual they fail to mention that neither the UK invitation from Barry Gardiner nor the US endorsement from the Republican Party Congress Men is from the ruling party in their respective countries.
At the end of the story, even if Modi does visit UK on a private invitation, how will that ever count as an endorsement by the British Government and would such a trip clear him of the several allegations against him in respect of riots and fake encounters?