Early elections in UK are need of the hour: Shailesh Vara
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Last Updated: Sunday, August 09, 2009, 09:37
Early elections in UK are need of the hour: Shailesh Vara  The UK Conservative Parliamentary Friends of India group is currently on an India visit. During their stopover at Delhi, the Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons Shailesh Vara and Shadow Minister in the House of Lords Baroness Sandip Verma had a tete-a-tete with Zeenews.com correspondent Ritam Banati with whom they spoke on issues ranging from the present political situation in their country to the racist attacks in Australia.
Ritam: What is the role of the Shadow Deputy Leader in the House of Commons?

Shailesh Vara: It is to oversee the business management of the House in terms of holding the ruling party in power to account for its actions. This is enabled by the government answering oral or written questions. We need to even ensure that proper time is allocated to debates in the House, so that they are successfully carried out.

Ritam: What was the purpose of the visit of the Conservative Parliamentary Friends of India to New Delhi?

Shailesh Vara: We visited Amity Business School and explored the possibility of research in various projects with them, in particular issues surrounding agriculture. We met the Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor of the university and also interacted with bright young Indian students.
The purpose of our visit is also to improve trade relations with India which have been quite good historically. We are also interested in bettering academic relations with India. Our visit to India was also political. We’ll be calling on a number of politicians here.

Ritam: What are your views on Indo-UK relations vis-à-vis fighting terrorism?

Shailesh Vara: Britain should work closely with India to root out terrorism. For that to happen as Labour Party government is concentrating more on political survival rather than economic crisis, an election should be held as soon as possible. Public must be given the chance to decide right now which government they want.

Overall we are working towards further bettering our already very good relations with India.

Ritam: Would you like to comment on the latest expenses scandal which has rocked the Labour Party government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown?
Shailesh Vara: The Prime Minister, who as Chancellor of the Exchequer has played a direct role for 10 years, must take responsibility for the same. He took absolutely no step to safeguard the finances like is done in other nations.

The PM must also take direct responsibility for the economic crisis that the country is facing. And that is why we need a General election and we need it now.

Ritam: Due to the expenses scandal, there have been resignations in the Labour Party. Do you think the recent victory of your party in the Norwich North by-election which saw Chloe Smith become the youngest MP at 27 in Britain, and my congratulations to you for that, is a major setback?

Shailesh Vara: Thank you. But no I don’t think so. It is not a serious setback for the Labour Party government. However the General Elections must be declared soon by the Prime Minister, who is slowly losing popularity among the public.

Ritam: What will be the campaign issues of the Conservative Party this time when the General Elections are called?
Shailesh Vara: Economic Crisis, education, health, law and order and transport should be the primary concerns.

Ritam: And in case your party comes to power, what will your strategy be towards Afghanistan?

Shailesh Vara: A number of British soldiers have lost their lives in Afghanistan. We are there for a stable Afghan government. And we will work for global peace.

Over to Baroness Sandip Verma

Ritam: There have been a number of racist attacks against Indians in Australia. What would you like to tell the government there about this being the Shadow Minister for Children, Schools & Families and Innovation, Universities and Skills?

Baroness Verma: The Vice Chancellors of Australian universities have been vigorously campaigning to attract overseas students particularly from Asian countries. If Australia has to sustain itself as a competitor in the global market then it will have to stop racism.

It is high time that the Oz government gets firm despite recession.

Ritam: What kind of an impact in your opinion does the practice of racism especially against students have?

Baroness Verma: I was horrified to hear the news of the attacks because you don’t associate Australia with racism to that extent at least. These students (who were attacked) were adding value to their country.

The assault on overseas students has a detrimental effect on universities besides damaging bilateral relations. It also results in brain drain.

Ritam: You mentioned economic downturn earlier. How do you think the two issues are linked?

Baroness Verma: I think they bear a direct relation. No offence meant here. But if the natives of a place do not have jobs, they’ll naturally get frustrated on seeing foreigners in their land whom they think are grabbing their opportunities. So students become vulnerable targets in such a scenario. The man on the street would obviously only see that his pocket is empty.

Ritam: Thank you Mr Shailesh Vara, thank you Baroness Sandip Verma for your valuable time.

Thank you!

First Published: Sunday, August 09, 2009, 09:37

(The views expressed by the author are personal)
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