Hindu groups across the country have united to slam claims made by BNP leader Nick Griffin that British Hindus support the policies of the BNP. In a joint statement the Hindu Council UK, National Council of Hindu Temples and City Hindus Network said they were against what the BNP stood for.
Mr Griffin made his claims during an interview on Sky News' Sunday Live with Adam Boulton. The BNP leader was speaking after pledging to lift a bar on non-whites joining the party in response to court action by The Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Speaking to Adam Boulton he claimed: "A large number of the settled ethnic minority population, Sikhs, Hindus and so on, are actually very much in favour of the British National Party's stance about stopping any further immigration."
The claim, however, was denied. In a joint statement, Dr Rao, Chair of the Hindu Council UK, Sanjay Jagatia, General Secretary of the National Council of Hindu Temples, and Dhruv Patel, Chair of the City Hindus Network hit back at Mr Griffin.
"The claim made by Nick Griffin that Hindus back BNP is totally without foundation," the statement said. "Hindu Council UK, the National Council of Hindu Temples and City Hindus Network have had no contact with the BNP and as a peaceful law abiding community we do not agree with Nick Griffin's views or policies. We would also like to reiterate that we totally condemn all forms racism and religious intolerance."
Attempting to win Sikhs and Hindus to the BNP in order to set them against the Muslim community and cover up the party's racist ideology is hardly a new tactic for Griffin.
Back in 2001 the Observer reported: "Racists from the British National Party have joined forces with extremists from the Sikh and Hindu communities in an anti-Islamic campaign that has been blamed for stirring up racial violence. The campaign involves the distribution of thousands of CDs, tapes and leaflets claiming that Islam poses a threat to Britain.... The campaign has been condemned by all leading Hindu and Sikh organisations."
However, in addition to the opposition of mainstream community organisations, another obstacle Griffin faced was the difficulty of winning active support for the BNP from people who were banned from joining it. In 2002 Searchlight reported that Griffin was "contemplating ripping up the party rulebook, which at present disqualifies those without direct British or European ancestry from party membership". Griffin had told a local paper in Birmingham: "I can see a time when black and brown faces will be admitted into the BNP fold but we would have to be careful that we do not get to the stage where they outnumber the indigenous white members."
Searchlight noted that the proposal came "as Griffin continues to court rogue figures within the Sikh and Hindu communities in a bid to isolate Muslims and portray the BNP in a more respectable light" and that it coincided with "the release of an anti-Islam audiocassette by the BNP. Entitled: Islam – A threat to us all, the tape contains speeches by Griffin, a Hindu and a Sikh".
At the time, nothing came of the plan to open up the BNP membership to non-whites – which, for the hardline white supremacists who make up the BNP's core cadre, was evidently a step too far in Griffin's "modernisation" strategy.
However, the BNP continued to cultivate right-wing individuals in the Sikh and Hindu communities on the basis of a common hatred of Muslims. A Sikh extremist named Rajinder Singh contributed articles to the Voice of Freedom newspaper and appeared in a BNP election broadcast urging a vote for the BNP on the grounds that it was the only party resisting the Islamification of Britain. In 2004 the Observer reported that Griffin was once again trying to amend the party's rulebook.
Addressing a BNP conference of regional organisers and other officials, Griffin and the BNP's legal advisor Lee Barnes had outlined a compromise plan whereby the party would set up parallel structures for non-white BNP supporters. Griffin and Barnes tried to scare the party into agreement by raising the prospect of what they claimed would be an inevitable legal challenge to the BNP's membership criteria from the Commission for Racial Equality. The CRE, however, refused to play ball and Griffin again failed get his plan implemented.
Since then, of course, the CRE has been liquidated into the Equality and Human Rights Commission. And the EHRC, by launching a successful court case against the BNP over its racist membership rules, has given Griffin what he has long wanted, an excuse to change those rules. (Sunny Hundal has argued that this was "a huge own-goal" by the EHRC, though others would take the view that the EHRC was merely anticipating the provisions of the Equality Bill, under which the BNP's whites-only criterion for membership would be illegal anyway.)
Griffin has announced that the BNP will now call an Emergency General Meeting where he will tell the members that fighting the EHRC action in the courts would be prohibitively expensive, that the BNP would almost certainly lose, and that the party's existing membership rules will be illegal when the Equality Act comes into force, so there is no alternative to amending the rule book. Griffin has however reassured the party's fascist cadre, in a conscious echo of the "14 words", that the BNP will remain "true to our core principles and most important of all to our purpose – to secure a future for the true children of our islands".
As we see, in anticipation of the EGM's decision to allow the recruitment of non-whites, Griffin is now renewing his pitch for support among Sikhs and Hindus. Indeed, Martin Wingfield has already suggested that, in recognition of his services to the party, Rajinder Singh should be allowed the "honour" of becoming the BNP's first non-white member.
Nobody imagines that any but a handful of extreme right-wing eccentrics from the Sikh and Hindu communities will apply to join the BNP. But just as the BNP brandishes the Jewish origins of its Epping councillor Patricia Richardson to bolster the fraudulent claim that the party has now rid itself of antisemitism, the presence of a few brown-skinned Islamophobes will be used by Griffin to step up the BNP's hate campaign against the Muslim community while asserting that the BNP is no longer a racist party.