‘A gift for Diwali!’ Indians rejoice over Hindu Rishi Sunak’s ascension as British PM


  • Indians around the world have welcomed Rishi Sunak as the new British Prime Minister.
  • This as Hindus celebrate Diwali on Monday.
  • Sunak won the race for the job earlier Monday.

Many Indians are elated at the prospect of Rishi Sunak becoming the first person of Indian descent to become British Prime Minister, just as Hindus around the world celebrate Diwali.

Sunak was due to take the top job after rivals Boris Johnson and Penny Mordaunt dropped out of the race to replace Liz Truss as leader of the Conservative Party. Truss resigned after a month and a half as his support evaporated and Sunak was set to officially take over as prime minister later on Monday or Tuesday.

Sunak’s expected rise to the post of Prime Minister had already made headlines in most Indian newspapers – alongside the Indian cricket team’s victory over their Pakistani rivals in a T20 World Cup match late on Sunday .

Some Indians have said on social media that Sunak becoming prime minister this year would be even more special as India recently celebrated 75 years of independence from British colonial rule.

“This (Diwali) is very special for India’s magnificent cricket victory and in all likelihood Rishi Sunak, a person of Indian descent, a practicing Hindu and the son-in-law of our very own Narayana Murthy, will become Prime Minister of UK,” said a Chennai resident. D Muthukrishnan wrote on Twitter, referring to the founder of Indian software giant Infosys Ltd.

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“Rishi Sunak was sworn in as an MP on (the Hindu holy book) Bhagavad Gita. If he repeats the same for being sworn in as Prime Minister, what a day it is for India, that too in our 75th year of independence from Britain.”

A former UK Chancellor of the Exchequer or Finance Minister, Sunak, 42, is a practicing Hindu and is known to celebrate the Festival of Lights. He was also pictured lighting candles on Downing Street to mark the occasion.


Indians are generally very proud when those who find their roots in the nation of 1.4 billion people do well abroad, including the likes of US Vice President Kamala Harris, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai.

Some Indians hope for closer Anglo-Indian ties if Sunak becomes prime minister.

“@RishiSunak becoming UK Prime Minister will be a great Diwali gift for the UK and a reason to celebrate in India,” former Indian diplomat Rajiv Dogra wrote on Twitter.

Sunak’s family emigrated in the 1960s to Britain, which ruled India for around 200 years before the South Asian country won independence in 1947 after a long struggle led by the Mahatma Gandhi.

Some British Indian Tory supporters were also celebrating his rise, with party member Ravi Kumar, 38, from Nottingham calling it a “watershed moment”.

« I grew up in the 80s and 90s, and I couldn’t even imagine a non-white prime minister in my lifetime, » he said. « I always saw it as a white country and we came there as children of immigrants… So to see a British Indian leader is phenomenal. »

Sunder Katwala, director of British Future think tank, also said it was a historic moment, showing the changes in British politics and public life over the past decades.

« It’s a new normal at the top of British politics and partly because of the current political chaos, » he said.

“We have the third female prime minister, followed by the first Asian prime minister…Rishi Sunak is actually the fifth UK Asian minister in history, and there was none before 2010.”

The revelations that Sunak’s wife, Akshata Murthy, an Indian citizen, had not paid UK tax on her foreign income thanks to her « non-domiciled » status – available to foreign nationals who do not consider the Britain as their permanent home – injured Sunak ahead of his run against Truss in the summer.

Murthy, who has a 0.9% stake in Infosys, later said she would start paying UK tax on her aggregate income.

His family wealth proved a divisive issue for some.

“Rishi Sunak as Prime Minister is not a win for Asian representation,” tweeted opposition Labor MP Nadia Whittome, who also has Indian roots.

“He’s a multi-millionaire who, as chancellor, cut taxes on bank profits while overseeing the biggest drop in living standards since 1956. Black, white or Asian: if you work for a living, he is not on your side.”


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