Modi hopes Sunak can transform historic UK-India ties into modern partnership


Many Indians have welcomed the nomination of Rishi Sunak as Britain’s prime minister. Sunak becomes the first Indian-origin Hindu to lead the United Kingdom.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the first to congratulate 42-year-old Sunak. His 24 October success in securing the Tory leadership coincided with Diwali, the festival of lights, which Hindus believe is a promise of prosperity.

“Special Diwali wishes to the 'living bridge' of UK Indians, as we transform our historic ties into a modern partnership,” Modi said as other comentators dubbed Sunak's victory as a matter of “pride for Indians worldwide”.

Indian newspapers have repeatedly reminded readers of Sunak’s religion. He's a practicing Hindu, but have tended to gloss over his immaculate British upbringing or his tenuous links to India where Oxford-educated Sunak has no remaining blood relatives.

Sunak was born in Southampton to parents of Indian descent who moved to Britain from Nairobi in 1966. His grandparents migrated to Africa in the mid-1930s from Gujranwala, which is now in Punjab province, and part of Pakistan.

“I know many Indians now think an Indian will rule over the old colonial masters,” commented former British Labour Party politician Meghnath Desai, referring to 200 years of Britain’s commercial and military rule in the Indian subcontinent.

“Hard-selling achievers is a convenient way of grabbing the limelight by entities which have nothing to offer,” added analyst Shivaji Sarkar, speaking with RFI.

Economists say Punjabi-speaking Sunak will rather first fix Britain’s economy than double down on his diaspora campaign in north London where he spoke of improving ties with India.

Read more on RFI

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