A GROUP claiming to represent the Indian diaspora in Scotland has withdrawn its support for Douglas Ross, accusing the Scottish Tory leader of being “weak” and “immature”.

The Indian Council of Scotland has called for the Moray MP to step down as party leader, claiming he has brought the Scottish Tories’ reputation to a “historic low”.

Photos on the council’s Facebook page show its president and chair, Neil Lal, alongside Tory MSPs such as Murdo Fraser and Brian Whittle, as well as backing Jackson Carlaw.

Lal was also formerly the president of the Scottish Conservative Friends of India (SCFI), an organisation which has also withdrawn support for Ross.

In a statement, Lal (below) said: “With Douglas Ross as leader, the Scottish Conservatives are going down the wrong dangerous path.”

The National:

The group, which says it has 20 members on its board representing people from all Indian faiths and backgrounds, is angry that Ross has failed to meet with them and sign up to their “no anti-Indian and no Hinduphobia policy framework”. They say they have repeatedly asked him to do so and been rebuffed.

The Indian Council of Scotland claims to represent upwards of 30,000 people in Scotland, a claim which was widely reported when they accused Humza Yousaf of breaking the ministerial code.

They also made headlines when the council “withdrew” support for the SNP, a party it had never publicly backed.

It has made public statements in support of the Tories however, especially Chancellor Rishi Sunak. The council said that it has “no issue with the Scottish Conservative party as a whole”, but wants to see a change of leadership.

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Lal told The National the council would be advising its members not to vote for the Scottish Tories in the upcoming local elections and for as long as Ross remained at its head.

In a lengthy statement posted to the Indian Council’s Facebook page, Lal wrote: “Douglas Ross has brought the Scottish Conservatives party into disrepute and a historical reputational low.

“The Indian Council Board and community is angry and very upset and we will now work actively not to support Douglas Ross. At the end of the day, Douglas Ross is paid by the public purse and he is a public servant that should be engaging with all communities of all faiths and cultures and not being the way he is now.”

Lal claimed Ross’s refusal to meet the group showed he was “immature” and “weak”, adding that the Scottish Tory leader was “clearly” not first minister material.

Raj Sharma, the SCFI acting president, also called on the Scots Tory leader to resign, accusing him of having “insulted our community”.

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However, Pam Gosal, the Scottish Tory MSP, is the director of the Conservative Friends of India Scotland (CFIS), a different group which seeks to forge closer ties between the Conservative Party and the British Indian community in Scotland.

The Scottish Tories also have another MSP of Indian origin in Sandesh Gulhane. However, Lal said Ross had “lost the plot if he is of the view that as there are two Indian origin MSPs in the party then all is well”.

A spokesperson for the Tories said the SCFI group had no affiliation to either their Scottish or UK party.

They went on: “Neil Lal is not a member of the Scottish Conservatives and his council is in no way affiliated to the party.

“Our party regularly engage with our Indian communities and others via our Scottish Conservative Friends of BAME group and others.

“Neil has been invited to meet with the chair of the BAME group, but he has declined to do so.

“We were very proud to be the party that elected the Scottish Parliament’s first ever Hindu and Sikh MSPs at last year’s election and we will continue to build on that work.”