Rishi Sunak’s Ascent to UK PM’s Post Triggers Debate over Minority Representation in India

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Opposition leaders such as senior Congress leaders P Chidambaram, Shashi Throor and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti gave a call to learn lessons from Sunak’s elevation to the post of the prime minister in the UK

Team Clarion

NEW DELHI – As there is a lot of celebrations in India after a person of Indian descent, Rishi Sunak, has become prime minister of Britain, many prominent people including Opposition leaders have questioned the lack of minority representation in the corridors of power and unfavourable sentiment against a Muslim or a Christian becoming the prime minister of India owing to their religions with foreign origin.

Opposition leaders such as senior Congress leaders P Chidambaram, Shashi Throor and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti gave a call to learn lessons from Sunak’s elevation to the post of the prime minister in the UK.

Reacting to the news of Nishi Sunak becoming the Prime Minister of Britain, Chidambaram, former Union home minister, wrote on his Twitter handle: “First Kamala Harris, now Rishi Sunak. The people of the US and the UK have embraced the non-majority citizens of their countries and elected them to high office in government.”

“I think there is a lesson to be learned by India and the parties that practise majoritarianism,” he added.

Former Union minister Throor asked as to whether a member of a visible minority can be elected to the most powerful office in India as happened in Britain. “If this does happen, I think all of us will have to acknowledge that theBrits have done something very rare in the world,to place a member of a visible minority in the most powerful office. As we Indians celebrate the ascent of @RishiSunak, let’s honestly ask: can it happen here,” Tharoor tweeted.

In a statement given to the media, Tharoor also questioned the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) not having a single member of the parliament from the party.

“A party like BJP which doesn’t have a single Muslim MP in Parliament today, which is a shocking situation that’s never been there in past. Can supporters of BJP imagine a PM of another background or a BJP CM from either Islamic or Christian faiths? I doubt it,” he said.

Referring to Sunak’s ascent to power, PDP leader Mehbooba drew attention towards the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which denies citizenship to Muslims.

“Proud moment that the 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,” tweeted Mehboob.

Not just political leaders, there are others too who raised the issue of minorities becoming prime minister of India.

Sweden-based professor Ashok Swain asked as to whether a Muslim or a Christian or even a Dalit can become PM of India.

In another tweet, Swain cited the opposition to Sonia Gandhi becoming Prime Minister in India owing to her Italian-origin.

“Nationalist Indians are gloating over Rishi Sunak becoming UK’s PM, whose wife didn’t even pay taxes in UK. The same nationalists were calling for a kind of civil war against Sonia Gandhi becoming India’s PM though her husband had sacrificed his life for India,” said Swain.

He also questioned the fact that Sunak was of Indian origin, saying that Sunak’s grandparents were from Pakistan’s Gujranwala.

“Rishi Sunak’s grandparents were from Gujranwala, Pakistan; Rishi Sunak’s parents were from Nairobi, Kenya; Rishi Sunak was born in Southampton, UK,” said Swain.    

Meanwhile, the BJP has got triggered by these reactions.

Senior BJP leader and MP Ravi Prasad Shankar cited the example of Manmohan Singh and Abdul Kalam Azad becoming prime minister and president.

“Some leaders hv become hyperactive against majoritarianism after the 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,” he tweeted.

Congress also tried to play down the issue by citing some examples of Muslims becoming president of India.

“In our country, Dr Zakir Hussain first became the President in 1967, then Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed became the President and Dr Abdul Kalam and if I keep giving you examples, Barkatullah Khan became chief minister and A R Antulay also became the chief minister,” said AICC general secretary of communications Jairam Ramesh.

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