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Donning a ‘patka’, Jeremy Corbyn serves food at langar in Southall gurdwara before EU elections

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn donned a ‘patka’ and served food during ‘langar’ at the Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara in Southall on Sunday as part of campaigning for the May 23 elections to the European Parliament, and reiterated promises to the Sikh community.

Accompanied by shadow chancellor John McDonnell, Ealing Southall MP Virendra Sharma, Slough MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi and others, Corbyn reiterated the party’s promise that in power it would formally apologise for the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

An image of Corbyn at the gurdwara occupied most of the front page of The Guardian on Monday, with the title ‘Day of spirituality and hard-nosed politics’.

Veerendra Sharma told the gathering: “May 23 is the day when you decide to leave or stay in the European Union. I am totally in favour of remaining in the EU because that is best for the UK economy. Labour can play a major part in consolidating the Remain position.”

Corbyn also visited the Regents Park mosque during the day and broke fast, following the practice in recent elections of leading British politicians visiting Hindu temples, gurdwaras and mosques to woo the increasingly influential vote of the British Asian community.

Besides the issue of an apology for the Corbyn and other speakers spoke about Labour’s commitment in the 2017 manifesto to set up an independent inquiry into the UK’s role in the 1984 Operation Bluestar.

Labour MP Preet Kaur Gill has also been seeking cross-party support for a separate Sikh ethnic tick box in the 2021 Census, a demand that has so far been resisted by the Office for National Statistics.

Campaign group Sikh Federation (UK) said McDonnell announced during the visit that the Labour leadership will meet Sikh organisations with grassroots support to help formulate Labour’s next election manifesto.

Corbyn interacted with devotees during the visit, while speakers included Onkar Singh Sahota (member of the London Assembly), Seema Malhotra (Labour MP), and Neena Gill and Claude Moraes MEP (both members of the European Parliament), who are candidates in the May 23 elections.

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