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Renowned Dalit sympathizer Jeremy Corbyn becomes UK Labour Party’s new leader


LONDON: A renowned Dalit sympathizer, hard core Tony Blair critic and an MP who vowed to publicly apologize for the Iraq war is Labour Party’s new leader.

Jeremy Corbyn has become the leader of the second-largest party in Britain and the government’s main opposition with a thumping majority, getting 60% of the vote share.

Corbyn, who began the contest as a rank outsider gained 251,417 or 59.5% of the votes seeing off a challenge from frontbenchers Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall.

One of the man beneficiaries of the win will be Britain’s Dalit community.

Corbyn, the 66-year-old MP for Islington North was the trustee of the Dalit Solidarity Network in UK and has gone on record to say that the community was facing caste discrimination in UK – exported from India.

Known for his activism, Corbyn entered the British parliament in 1983 and was a staunch opponent of the Iraq War. He was also one of 12 MPs in 2006 to back an inquiry into the invasion by the allied forces.

He was arrested in 1984 outside the South African embassy for breaking a protest ban during the apartheid era.

Dalits say that a landmark legislation that calls for an end to caste discrimination in UK may soon get fresh energy after Corbyn’s election.

In April last year, the House of Commons through the Equality Act had voted for legal protection of the four lakh Dalits who live in the UK. They included caste among other forms of discrimination making UK the first country outside South Asia to legislate against such discrimination against Dalits by other Hindus.

But Dalits in UK have been afraid that the law won’t be implemented finally.

The Dalit Solidarity Network UK said “This unprecedented prolonged consultation means that the government can repeal the legislation before it is implemented”.

SNP leader and Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon congratulated Corbyn and offered to work with him to oppose the renewal of Trident nuclear weapons and against Tory austerity.

She said “The reality today is that at a time when the country needs strong opposition to the Tories, Jeremy Corbyn leads a deeply and very bitterly, divided party. Indeed, if Labour cannot quickly demonstrate that they have a credible chance of winning the next UK general election, many more people in Scotland are likely to conclude that independence is the only alternative to continued Tory government”.

Reacting to Corbyn’s win, Michael Fallon, the defence secretary said on behalf of the Conservative party “Labour are now a serious risk to our nation’s security, our economy’s security and your family’s security. Whether it’s weakening our defences, raising taxes on jobs and earnings, racking up more debt and welfare or driving up the cost of living by printing money – Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party will hurt working people”.

Corbyn became MP for Islington North in 1983 and has been in the same seat ever since, winning the most recent election with a thundering 21,000-vote majority. He is known to be a rebel and since 2001 has defied Labour whips more than 500 times.

He has also been a patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which urges a boycott of Israeli goods in protest at the situation in Gaza.


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