Mohinder K Midha became the first Dalit woman mayor in the United Kingdom. The Indian-origin politician is a member of UK’s Labour Party and was elected as the Mayor of Ealing Council in west London. She was chosen to be the mayor for the term of 2022 and 2023 at a council meeting held on the 24th of this month.
Santosh Dass, president of the Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations (FABO), UK and the vice chair of the Anti-Caste Discrimination Alliance (ACDA), and one of the leading figures in the campaign to outlaw caste-based discrimination in the UK tweeted, “The first-ever Dalit woman mayor in the UK. A proud moment for us.”
The local elections were held on May 5 in London where the Labour party secured 2,272 votes. Ealing has 69 councillors, of whom 57 belong to Labour, eight are conservative and four are Liberal Democrats. Midha who was re-elected as the Labour Councillor for the Dormers Wells ward in the Ealing Council, had already been serving as the Deputy Mayor for the council previously.
The Ealing Labour manifesto said that they are proud to be the only party standing up for and representing residents across the towns of Acton, Ealing, Greenford, Hanwell, Northolt, Perivale and Southall. They would stress on tackling the cost of living, recovering from the pandemic, fighting violent crime and antisocial behaviour, fixing social care, re-growing, re-wilding and recycling, and delivering affordable homes.
According to the International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN), there are at least 250.000 Dalits living in the UK. The exact figure, however, is unknown due to issues concerning identification as a ‘Dalit’, lack of detailed research and the absence of caste data in the census.
The news of a Dalit woman mayor is being celebrated as a huge achievement for a community that continues to face discrimination and violence at the hands of dominant castes in India. They are considered to be people belonging to the lowest stratum of the caste hierarchy that still scars society even in 21st Century India. The National Crimes Records Bureau () data says, there were 33,719 cases of crimes against Dalits in , and this figure rose to 50,291 in . The numbers point to a sharp rise in such cases over a decade. The highest number of cases in the past decade have been reported from Uttar Pradesh (95,751), Bihar (63,116), Rajasthan (58,945), Madhya Pradesh (44,469) and Andhra Pradesh (26,881).