Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Britain’s musical chair

Britain had its third prime minister within three months when Rishi Sunak was chosen to head Britain on October 25 after Liz Truss resigned on October 20 following her government’s failed tax-cutting budget that rocked financial markets and which led to a revolt within her own Conservative Party. Truss had earlier replaced the then irrepressible prime minister Boris Johnson on September 6 after he was forced to resign on July 7 due to covid-19 pandemic party gate scandal, backlash over skyrocketing costs of living, and other crises. She had been in office for just 44 days, making her the shortest-serving prime minister in British history. Rishi Sunak, an Indian-origin British lawmaker was chosen as the next prime minister of the UK on October 24. He is the UK’s first leader of colour and also son in law of N.R. Narayana Murthy, well known founder of Indian software giant Infosys. Sunak took charge after meeting King Charles III who invited him to form the government. Sunak’s win came after Penny Mordaunt backed out of the Tory leadership contest and failed to secure the necessary 100 nominations from her fellow Tory MPs. Sunak’s phenomenal rise to the office of the prime minister of the UK has also sparked debate in India between liberals and right wing politicians about his Hindu credentials. The political spectrum in India is using the elevation of Rishi Sunak to talk about the issues they hold dear. The Hindus especially in the BJP, are just celebratory because someone who has asserted his Hindu faith proudly in the past by doing Gau Puja etc, is becoming the leader of a Western Nation. Besides being the first Hindu Prime Minister of Indian heritage, Sunak is also the youngest for around 200 years at 42 years. Senior Congress leader and former Union Minister P.C. Chidambaram said, “I think there is a lesson to be learned by India and the parties that practise majoritarianism.” Chidambaram pointed out that first, Kamala Harris was chosen as vice president of the USA and then Rishi Sunak as the prime minister of UK. In all these, he said both the USA and UK have embraced the non-majority citizens of minority religions in choosing them as leaders of their countries. He opined that there was a lesson learnt by India and also a strong message for those who practise majoritarianism. The debate in India that clearly has political overtones, does no credit to the British politicians who seen Rishi Sunak as the man who may have the answer to their economic problems. Rishi is first a British citizen and then a prime minister of his country. Be it Rishi Sunak or Sadiq Aman Khan , the Mayor of London, since 2016; both belong to different religions. Both were chosen on the basis of their capabilities and not because of their race of religion. A social media post after Rishi was chosen as the prime minister of UK, listed the three top leaders –Rishi a Hindu, Khan a Muslim and King Charles III a Christian.. It would take an incredibly naive person to believe that just because Sunak is a proud Hindu and a leader of Indian origin, he is going to take decisions that are beneficial to India.

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