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HomePolitics'Can it happen here' asks opposition on 'minority' UK PM Rishi Sunak....

‘Can it happen here’ asks opposition on ‘minority’ UK PM Rishi Sunak. BJP counters with Manmohan

Tharoor tweets British did something 'rare' by placing a 'visible minority in most powerful office'. BJP top leaders take on Congress, bring in Sonia and her Italian origin.

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New Delhi: As Rishi Sunak took charge as Britain’s first Indian-origin Prime Minister Tuesday, a political slugfest raged in India with the opposition taking a jibe at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for its “majoritarian” politics and the ruling party raking up how “Italian origin” Sonia Gandhi made way for a Sikh Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh.

Sunak was born to Indian immigrants who came to the UK in the 1960s from Kenya and Tanzania. His grandparents originated from British India but their birthplace, Gujranwala, is now in Pakistan.

After graduating from Oxford University, he went to Stanford University in the US where he met his wife Akshata Murthy, whose father N.R. Narayana Murthy is the founder of IT giant Infosys.

Former Union Minister and senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram, cited Sunak’s example and that of US Vice-President Kamala Harris to say that “there is a lesson to be learned by India and the parties that practise majoritarianism”.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor went a step further, asserting that the British had done something “very rare in the world” by placing a “visible minority” in the most powerful office.

The BJP responded asking what Tharoor means by “visible minority”. Others cited the example of Manmohan Singh to ask whether or not Sikhs can be considered as “visible minority”.

Outgoing Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her Italian origin were brought into the debate, too. “…election being won by a woman leader of Italian origin and Roman Catholic faith, Sonia Gandhi, who then made way for a Sikh Manmohan Singh, to be sworn in as PM by a Muslim President Abdul Kalam, in a country 81% Hindu. ST’s (Shashi Tharoor’s) politics is often at divergence with his glib talk,” BJP IT cell chief Amit Malviya tweeted.

On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had congratulated Sunak on his new role. “Warmest congratulations @RishiSunak! As you become UK PM, I look forward to working closely together on global issues, and implementing Roadmap 2030. Special Diwali wishes to the ‘living bridge’ of UK Indians, as we transform our historic ties into a modern partnership,” he tweeted.

It was not just the Congress that targeted the BJP as former Jammu & Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti waded into the debate. “Proud moment that UK will have its first Indian origin PM. While all of India rightly celebrates, it would serve us well to remember that while UK has accepted an ethnic minority member as its PM, we are still shackled by divisive & discriminatory laws like NRC & CAA,” the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief tweeted.

BJP MP and former Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad hit out at Mufti for her statement, asking if she would be okay with a minority community leader as the head of the government of Jammu & Kashmir.

“Saw Mahbooba Mufti’s tweet commenting on the rights of minorities in India after the election of Rishi Sunak as PM of UK. @MehboobaMufti Ji! Will you accept a minority in Jammu and Kashmir as Chief Minister of the state? Please be frank enough to reply [sic],” Prasad asked.

The PDP and the BJP had formed a coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir in 2015 with PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed taking charge as the chief minister. His daughter Mehbooba Mufti succeeded him after his death in 2016. Two years later, the BJP pulled out of the government.

“Some leaders hv become hyper active against majoritarianism after election of Rishi Sunak as PM of UK. Gently reminding them about the extraordinary Presidency of APJ Abdul Kalam, Manmohan Singh as PM for 10years. A distinguished tribal leader Droupadi Murmu is now our President. A competent leader of Indian origin Rishi Sunak is becoming the Prime Minister of UK. We all need to compliment him on this extraordinary success. It is tragic that some Indian politicians are unfortunately trying to make a political brownie point on this occasion [sic],” the BJP leader added.

Also Read: Rishi Sunak more suited than Conservative rivals to be PM—if UK can look past his skin colour

Divergent views in Congress? 

Congress’ communication in-charge Jairam Ramesh, however, sought to distance the Congress from Chidambaram’s and Tharoor’s stands.

At the AICC headquarters, Ramesh said it was amusing that now India would have to take lessons from the British on how to handle diversities.

“For years, India has been an example of how to handle diversity. But in the last eight years, we have seen something else. I don’t believe that we need to take lessons from any other country. Our society itself is an example of unity in diversity,” he said.

Zakir Hussain, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, Abdul Kalam had been heads of state in India in the past, said Ramesh. “If I continue then I can also cite the example of Barkatullah Khan who was CM of Rajasthan. A.R. Antulay was also a CM. Therefore, ask those who’ve made the comment. I will not make a statement on what some other leader has said.”

“Abdul Kalam became President when Atal Bihar Vajpayee was PM. There’s a heaven and hell difference between how Vajpayee thought and how Narendra Modi thinks because Vajpayee was a product of the Nehru era. I still believe Vajpayee was very inspired by Nehru’s vision. But Narendra Modi is only involved in trying to figure out how to erase Nehru’s legacy,” he added.

(Edited by Tony Rai)

Also Read: Indians delight as Rishi Sunak becomes new UK PM on Diwali


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