Rishi Sunak; Historical Moment – OPINION – CHATHURANGAM

Rishi Sunak;  Historical Moment – OPINION – CHATHURANGAM

Rishi Sunak took charge as British Prime Minister. Representing the constituency of Richmond in Yorkshire, he is only 42 – the youngest Prime Minister in modern British history. Rishi was first elected in 2015. Within three years he became Under Secretary for Local Government in Theresa May’s government; Within two years Boris Johnson made him Chancellor of the Exchequer – effectively second in command in the Cabinet. Sunak was a leading contender for prime minister when Johnson resigned amid controversy in the middle of the year. Majority of MPs supported him. But Liz trailed behind Truss in a poll among party members. Liz Truss, who succeeded Johnson at the helm of Britain, could only hold on for 44 days. Their economic reforms failed miserably. When the tax was reduced, the price of essential goods went up sharply. The value of the pound has plummeted. People’s lives became difficult. The crisis did not ease even after the Finance Minister was sacked. Prime Minister resigned without fulfillment. This time there was no big confusion. Majority of MPs supported Sunak. None of the opponents could secure fixed support. Therefore, the party members did not have to bother voting. And so on Diwali, the conservative party found a new prime minister in Rishi Sunak. King Charles III invited him to form his cabinet.

Rishi Sunak is the first non-white Prime Minister in British history. His grandfather was a migrant to Kenya from Gujranwala in undivided India. Rishi’s father left Kenya for education in Britain. Later he accepted his citizenship. Rishi was born and brought up in England. At the same time, he is proud of his Indian heritage and tradition. Akshata, daughter of Infosys co-founder Narayanamurthy, found her life partner while studying at Stanford University in America. In 2009, they got married according to Hindu rituals at the Leela Hotel in Bengaluru. Even now Akshata has not taken British citizenship. Rishi Sunak does not hesitate to say out loud that he is British by birth and deed but Indian by tradition and Hindu by religion. He took the oath with the Bhagavad Gita; He also conducts public Gopuja on Krishna Ashtami day.

Although the British claim a great tradition of democracy since the Magna Carta, they are traditionally conservative. They could not even imagine a non-white Prime Minister, that too of Asian origin. The unwritten rule is that the British Prime Minister must be a Protestant, especially an Anglican, if he is a Christian. Benjamin Disraeli was able to become the British Prime Minister three times because he accepted Christianity as a child. Had he remained a Jew like his forefathers, he would not have been able to become a parliamentarian. This was the case even in the latter half of the 19th century, when liberalism flourished. Catholics are no different. It was only after he resigned as Prime Minister in 2007 that Tony Blair dared to embrace the Catholic faith. Boris Johnson was baptized as a Catholic; He converted to the Anglican Church while still a schoolboy. His third marriage to Carrie Simmons took place in a Catholic church while he was prime minister. When asked if he was a Catholic, Johnson replied that he was not interested in discussing such matters publicly. The Chartist Movement was a 19th century movement to universalize suffrage. Their main demand was the right to vote for all adult males. They didn’t even want women’s right to consent. When John Russell was Prime Minister, a bill was introduced to give women the right to vote. But it did not pass. History has it that Queen Victoria herself mocked Russell. After World War I, women voted for the first time in 1919. Even then, the voting age for men was set at 21 and for women at 30. 18 women contested in that election. All but one lost. The first woman elected to the House of Commons was not British by birth. Nancy Astor was an American who became a naturalized citizen by marrying a British citizen. In 1979, a woman became the first British Prime Minister – Margaret Thatcher. She was a very powerful ruler. Thatcher proved that women can rule Britain. Number Ten Downing Street, the Prime Minister’s official residence, remained inaccessible to blacks, Catholics, Jews and all other minority groups.

There are those who compare Sunak’s tenure with that of Barack Obama as President of the United States and Kamala Harris as Vice President. The idea is that the president of the United States should be a white Protestant. That position was unthinkable for blacks, Jews, women, or Catholics. In 1960, John F. Kennedy ended untouchability for Catholics. But he only got a majority of around one lakh popular votes. Five Southern states that had traditionally voted Democratic abandoned Kennedy. Kennedy was able to win because his opponent was generally weak. Another Catholic, Joe Biden, won again in 2020. In 2008, Barack Obama ended white supremacy. Although his skin color is black, he is of mixed race. Obama’s father was a Kenyan citizen and his mother was a white American. He is never representative of those who suffered discrimination or the disadvantages of slavery. Kennedy, Obama, Biden and Kamala are Democrats. Traditionally, African, Asian, and Hispanic Americans vote for the Democratic Party. Therefore, their success was not impossible to some extent. British people are more conservative than Americans. It is adamant that if the British Prime Minister is only a Christian or a Protestant, he should also be a member of the Church of England. The conservative party represents the reactionaries among the whites themselves. Like the Democrats in America, the Labor Party represents immigrants in Britain. If a black or brown person becomes prime minister from that party, there is a political logic to it. Incidentally, Rishi Sunak is a conservative party member. Yet soon after entering politics, he became a Member of Parliament. Soon after, he found a place in the cabinet. Even the Prime Minister finished without waiting for long. An absolutely dreamy achievement.

What is Rishi Sunak’s superiority over contemporary politicians? He is very rich. After completing his studies at Stanford University, he focused on business and amassed an immense fortune. His wife Akshata Murthy is also very rich. The Sunaks are worth £730 million. Richer than the British monarch or any other prime minister in recent times. His rich background, degrees from leading British and American universities, clear intellect, eloquence and, above all, his assertiveness earned him influence among Britain’s rich and middle classes. (Let’s say a Shashi Tharoor in Britain.) Still, Rishi has not received that kind of recognition among the common people of the country. That is why the party was left behind in the polls held among the members. Britain is experiencing a severe financial crisis. The Empire on which the sun never sets is now a myth. All the colonies were independent. It is not possible to import raw materials from Asian and African countries or to carry and sell products. The upside impact of the Lis Truss economic reforms is beyond that. Inflation and inflation should be controlled. The economy should be strengthened. The problems of migrants from Afro-Asian countries should also be solved immediately. There are other headaches created by the war in Ukraine. Rishi Sunak was a staunch supporter of leaving the European Union. That separation is not yet complete. Its problems remain to be solved. Groupism and infighting are rife in the conservative party. Recent opinion polls indicate that the party’s approval rating has fallen sharply. General elections are scheduled to be held in January 2025. By then, the economy should be strengthened and the lost image of the party and the government should be regained. That is the mission that Rishi Sunak has been waiting for. The world is watching to see if he succeeds.


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