Commentary and opinion on national and regional politics by Seema Malhotra

Monday, 21 February 2011

A Moving Remembrance for Indian Political Great Dr Lekh Raj Sharma

On Saturday I was lucky enough to be able to attend a moving tribute to Dr Lekh Raj Sharma, an Indian political great and father of Virendra Sharma MP. At a packed Gurdwara in Southall, politicians and community leaders lined up to pay their respects to Dr. Lekh Raj Sharma, and their condolences to his family. I had never really met Dr Sharma, whose political activism went back to the days of Gandhi, but at the remembrance service it was clear that the spirit of this great man shone through on Saturday with tributes from British MPs and MEPs, Hindu, Sikh and Muslim leaders, the Tamil community and others.
His story, his values, his integrity and strong sense of service made an impact on me in more ways than I expected. He was one of the architects of modern India, part of the movement that created a country, a constitution, a secular Government alongside an inclusive community politics. He had been a prominent Congress leader in the Punjab, a freedom fighter and a politician. It became quite clear what had driven Virendra Sharma MP to be the man of integrity that he is, and an important voice in British politics. Both men see the importance of the ongoing relationship between Britain and India, and both espoused the secular politics so vital to making sure all religions are treated equally and fairly. I was honoured to be there this weekend, and it has left me feeling far more inquisitive about the personal stories of the men and women of the last two generations who paved the way for modern Britain and modern India, and in doing so left such an important legacy for us today.