• Wednesday, July 24, 2024

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Labour candidate shocked by Tory opponent’s letter

Sonia Kumar, who is a Sikh, said as an NHS physiotherapist she helps all the people of Dudley irrespective of their background

Labour party candidate for Dudley Sonia Kumar at the launch of her election campaign. (Picture X @_SoniaKumar)

By: Shajil Kumar

LABOUR party candidate for Dudley Sonia Kumar has expressed shock over the letter sent by her Conservative opponent to British Pakistani voters on the occasion of Eid.

The NHS physiotherapist told the BBC she is “disappointed and shocked” by a “divisive” letter sent by Marco Longhi, who is seeking re-election from the constituency.

The letter addressed to “Voters of the British Pakistani/Kashmiri community in Dudley” has been doing the rounds on social media.

It starts by wishing Muslims on the occasion of Eid al-Adha. The letter points out that in India prime minister Narendra Modi has been reelected for a third term and Kashmiris will face tougher times in the coming months.

Longhi reminds voters that he has been at the forefront of speaking against the Indian Government’s atrocities in Kashmir and warns voters against choosing Sonia Kumar.

Longhi was attacked for highlighting Sonia’s British Indian background to wean away British Pakistani voters. Longhi claimed he was not trying to stoke division.

Sonia, who is a Sikh, said Longhi’s remarks were unacceptable. “I work in our NHS as a physiotherapist, helping all the people of Dudley no matter what their background is,” she told BBC.

Labour Party chair Anneliese Dodds called it “dog whistle politics” and wanted Rishi Sunak to take immediate action. “If he fails to do so, it will show his promise of professionalism, and accountability to be a hollow sham,” she said.

Former Labour MP Lord Austin, who represented the erstwhile Dudley North from 2005 to 2019, said he had worked hard to fight racism and sectarian politics and to bring local people together. “The people of Dudley are much better than this and I hope they reject this candidate and his nasty divisive politics.”

Labour’s candidate for Leicester East Rajesh Agrawal said the letter was a “shameful” attempt to divide Hindu and Muslim communities.

Longhi has been the MP for the former constituency of Dudley North since 2019.

The newly-formed constituency comprises areas of the former Dudley North and Dudley South constituencies. It is one of 57 seats in the West Midlands.

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