• Wednesday, November 30, 2022

HEADLINE STORY

Asian businessmen Selva Pankaj and Rami Ranger among top Tory donors

The Labour Party raised nearly £5.3 million in donations, beating the Tories, who collected £4.6 million, for the first time since the Corbyn-era.

Dr Selva Pankaj

By: Chandrashekar Bhat and Sarwar Alam

WEALTHY British Asians continued to pump money into the Conservative Party with businessman Dr Selva Pankaj making the largest total donation with £78,250 in the first quarter of 2022.

Dr Pankaj is the CEO of Regent Group, a London based educational group which has a number of institutes across the capital, including Regent College in central London.

The Sri Lanka-born former accountant donated a total of £354,000 to the Tory Party, according to the latest available data.

On his company’s success, Pankaj has previously said: “I take a day at a time, but we are very clear in what we are doing and where we are going, and as long as you have every day to succeed, eventually you will.”

Lord Rami Ranger, a long-time Tory supporter and co-chair of the Conservatives Friends of India, gave £30,500 in three separate donations from January to March. He has donated more than £1 million to the party over the years.

Speaking to Eastern Eye recently, Lord Ranger gave his backing to Boris Johnson but said if the embattled prime minister is ousted then the British public should look to a Asian MP to lead the nation.

“The opportunity should be given to an Asian candidate either Rishi (Sunak) or Sajid (Javid) , because it’s time we give the new generation of immigrants a chance to run the country.

Dr Rami Ranger with former prime minister David Cameron

“They will work very hard, because they’ll have to prove themselves. And they’ll be good for the restoration of social cohesion as well,” he said.

Current Tory Party treasure Malik Karim donated £31,500. The investment banker gave £872,000 to the Conservatives between 2014 and 2021.

A recent Conservative fundraising event hosted by Karim, where chancellor Rishi Sunak was guest of honour, saw tables going for up to £10,000.

Other substantial donations to the Conservatives came from businessmen Majid Khan of Regatta Ltd, Muhammad Fazan Tahir of FT Estates Limited and Logan Naidu, Group CEO of Kernel Global, who each donated £25,000.

The Labour Party raised nearly £5.3 million in donations, beating the Tories, who collected £4.6 million, for the first time since the Corbyn-era.

Health secretary Sajid Javid with Dr Rami Ranger

The party’s upturn has been credited to the return of Lord Levy, who was former prime minister Tony Blair’s chief fundraiser.

Nicknamed Lord Cashpoint, Lord Levy helped raise more than £100 million for the party between 1994 and 2007.

“I am determined to do everything I can to make sure the party has sufficient funds to fight the next election at least on an equal footing with the Tories,” he has been quoted as saying. “It is very important that Labour goes into that election with sufficient funds to make sure that contest is not one sided,” Lord Levy told The Times.

Among other Asians, media entrepreneur Lord Waheed Alli made the single largest donation with £12,500.

Lord Alli, who is worth £200 million, has been a long-time Labour supporter, having been brought into the party by Blair.

He gave £100,000 to Sir Keir Starmer’s successful bid to become leader and last month hosted a fundraising event for Labour MPs Wes Streeting and Kim Leadbetter which raised £20,000. He is reported to have paid the £4,600 bill for a buffet and drinks.

“I love the Labour party,” he told the Evening Standard. “It’s given me all the opportunities that I’ve had. I’m a gay rights activist. All of those things that have changed in my life have come through the Labour party.

“If people want to fight in the Labour party about its values, I’m here for the fight. I’m standing my ground, I’m not going anywhere. That’s what I believe in, you’re not going to take it away from me. By all means, bring it on.”

Dinesh Dhamija, Liberal Democrats MEP and founder of online travel agency Ebookers – which he sold for £247 million in 2004, donated £5,000 to the Lib Dems and has given £1.2 million to the party in total.

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