Amba Charan Vashishth
The taking over of Rishi Sunak, a person of Indian origin, as the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (UK) is certainly a matter of rejoicing for every Indian. The event has injected a sense of pride and honour for everyone in the country. The ruling BJP-led NDA is going gung-ho at the development. Yet many politicians have jumped in to play politics in the country and are explaining and exploiting the event in their own peculiar style to hammer out the ruling alliance and derive political-electoral benefits. It is only by chance that the new UK PM happens to belong to a minority community in the UK. For the British people, the Conservative Party to which he belongs, and the British Parliament, Sunak’s caste and religion had nothing to do with their choice. Thus, politicians in India are belittling his achievement by underlining only his caste and religion as if he had no other merit. This has exposed their narrowmindedness. The same champions of the rights of minorities in India did not press for a minority PM when their party won a majority in alliance with other parties. What can it be called now?
It is — and should be — a matter of pride for India that Rishi Sunak, a person of Indian origin, has risen to hold the high office of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (UK).
It is rightly said that politics is too much with us in India. That is why dirty — to an extent, mean — politics has come to play from the moment it became certain that Sunak enjoys majority support in UK Parliament. This news became handy for the non-NDA politicians in the country to stoop so low as to use this incident in the UK to make the waters of Indian politics still muddier with their narrow politics.
It is a matter of regret that in their anxiety to extract political advantage out of this happening in the UK, the politicians in the country have tried to paint the event to look as if Rishi Sunak possessed no other merit except that he belongs to a minority community. Their shortsightedness stands exposed before the world community.
The former J&K chief minister Ms. Mehbooba Mufti of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who had shared power with BJP, was quick to welcome that “India rightly celebrates this event” but, at the same time, she exhorted the politicians “to remember that while the UK has accepted an ethnic minority member as its PM, we are all still shackled by divisive and discriminatory laws like NRC and CAA”. The BJP’s former ministers Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Ravi Shankar Prasad were quick to retort asking her to tell whether she would accept a Hindu as J&K’s chief minister. That was sufficient to render her silent.
Similarly, the erudite former home and finance minister P. Chidambaran slammed the “majoritarianism” in the country. Shashi Tharoor went to the extent of asking whether “Sunak-type appointment could be possible for Muslims and Christians in India”. The Congress party was quick to “snub” both for their comments. Their utterances look very funny. In India, a person is “appointed” as the prime minister by the President — and in the UK by the King — not arbitrarily but only when he/she has been elected by the party which holds a majority in Parliament. Not going much earlier, both these senior Congress leaders should have made their party elect a Muslim or a Christian as leader of their parliamentary party by virtue of which he could be “appointed” as PM by the President of India when the Congress Party won a majority in alliance with other parties in 2004 and 2009. Why did they not do it then, they owe an explanation to the nation.
In the just-concluded elections for the post of the President of the Indian National Congress, why did both these gentlemen not demand that the party should shun “majoritarianism” and that a Muslim or a Christian should head the party? Needless to remind the Congress party that since independence in 1947 the Party has not “selected, elected or appointed” a single Muslim or Christian as head of the party. Why?
Chidambaram’s condemnation of “majoritarianism” too appears ludicrous. Democracy means rule by the majority. No leader can run a government unless he commands a majority in parliament. Does he mean to say that in his concept of democracy, the country should be ruled not by the majority but by the minority? And then why did his party not go by the rule of the majority during elections to the post of President of the Party? Why was Mr Mallikarjun Kharge who polled the majority of votes declared the winner and Mr Shashi Tharoor who got a minority of votes declared the loser? It all looks hypocritical.
This UK example has generated hope in the mind of the AIMIM (All-India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen) chief Asaduddin Owaisi that one day a Hijab-clad woman would be the prime minister of India. It is interesting to note that while people like Owaisi are fighting for Hijab in India, Muslim women in Iran have risen up against Hijab.
At this moment, it is relevant to recall the comment of the then British PM Winston M. Churchill: “If Independence is granted to India, power will go to the hands of rascals, rogues, freebooters; all Indian leaders of low calibre and men of straw. They will have sweet tongues and silly hearts. They will fight amongst themselves for power and India will be lost in political squabbles.”
Today, not only has India proved Churchill wrong by keeping democracy alive during the last 75 years but has shown that India has the wisdom, strength, and vision to guide the destiny of the British empire which once ruled the country. India has every hope that Rishi will do the very best for the UK and bring more laurels for it . At the same time, India hopes that the relations between the two countries would be more friendly and helpful for each other to usher in peace and prosperity in India and the world.
(The writer is a political analyst and commentator)
Amba Charan Vashishth