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David and Samantha Cameron visit Sikh temple

 

 

David Cameron has donned an orange “patka” headscarf as he visited a Sikh gurdwara – or temple – while campaigning in Kent.

The Prime Minister took along his wife, Samantha, who was celebrating her 44th birthday, for the visit to the temple in Gravesend, where they joined around 3,000 worshipers on a parade to celebrate Vaisakhi, a spring festival.

The start of the Camerons’ visit was delayed slightly after a scuffle appeared to break out among worshipers when a priest objected to speeches being made while prayers were taking place.

Mr and Mrs Cameron were taken to a side room in the temple until the dispute was resolved.

The Tory leader told the audience the Vaisakhi festival was a “big, bold” sign of their devotion.

“I wanted to make sure Downing Street was part of this too, and I’m proud to be the first Prime Minister to host a Vaisakhi reception at Number 10,” he said.

“And I’ll tell you what – if I’m back there as Prime Minister, I’ll keep bringing the community, the colour and the celebrations there, again and again.

“And I’m sure my children will carry on stealing the jalebi (sweets) too!”

All the political parties are eager to court the Sikh vote, with polls suggesting they are the religious group most likely to participate in elections.

There are an estimated 420,000 Sikhs in the UK, and while ethnic minorities traditionally support Labour, there are suggestions that members of the Sikh community may be open to be wooed by the Tories.

It is not the first time Mr Cameron has visited a sikh temple. In February he met worshippers at the Gurdwara SahibTemple in Leamington, Warwickshire.

And in 2013 he visited the Indian holy site of the Golden Temple of Amritsar, where he stopped short of fulfilling the Sikh community’s demand for an apology over the 1919 massacre of nearly 400 civilians at the hands of British soldiers.

Ed Miliband went to a Sikh temple earlier in the campaign.

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