Rishi Sunak’s Rise As British PM Triggers Debate Between BJP, Opposition

BJP leaders reaction came after leaders from various opposition parties, including the Congress, appeared to take a swipe at the BJP while lauding the rise of Rishi Sunak.

Rishi Sunak

With opposition leaders using the elevation of Rishi Sunak as Britain's next prime minister to lament alleged majoritarianism and divisiveness in India, the BJP on Tuesday cited APJ Abdul Kalam's and Manmohan Singh's rise as the country's president and prime minister to hit out at them.

The BJP also rejected any parallel between its leaders' opposition to prime ministership for Sonia Gandhi, who is of Italian origin, after the Congress won the Lok Sabha poll in 2004 and the Britain's ruling party choosing Indian-origin Sunak as its leader, paving the way for him to become the country's next PM. 

"Can't differentiate between Italy-born Sonia (who refused to take Indian citizenship for several decades after marriage with Rajiv) and UK-born Rishi with Indian ancestry," BJP's foreign affairs department head Vijay Chauthaiwale said responding to a Twitter user.

Reactions from BJP leaders came after leaders from various opposition parties, including the Congress, appeared to take a swipe at the BJP while lauding the rise of Sunak.

PDP president and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said it was a proud moment that Indian-origin Sunak was elected as the UK's prime minister but it should also serve as a reminder that Britain has accepted an ethnic minority member as its premier but "we are still shackled by divisive and discriminatory laws like NRC and CAA."

Congress leaders P Chidambaram and Shashi Tharoor welcomed the move and hoped one day this practice is adopted in the country. TMC MP Mohua Moitra welcomed the move and hoped India too becomes more tolerant.

"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," Chidambaram said on Twitter.

"I think there is a lesson to be learned by India and the parties that practise majoritarianism," he also said.

Tharoor said, "If this does happen, I think all of us will have to acknowledge that the Brits 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."

Former law minister and BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad hit out at them.

Taking a swipe at Mehbooba, he asked her to answer if she will accept a minority as Jammu and Kashmir's chief minister. 

"Some leaders have become hyper active against majoritarianism after election of Rishi Sunak as PM of UK. Gently reminding them about the extraordinary Presidency of APJ Abdul Kalam, Manmohan Singh as PM for 10 years. A distinguished tribal leader Droupadi Murmu is now our President," he said.

Prasad said a competent leader of Indian origin Sunak becoming the UK's prime minister needs to be complimented by them all on this extraordinary success.     "It is tragic that some Indian politicians are unfortunately trying to make a political brownie point on this occasion," he said.

BJP's IT department head Amit Malviya noted that India has had three Muslim and one Sikh president besides a Sikh prime minister for 10 years and minorities in top judicial positions and the armed forces. 

"It need not learn about diversity and inclusivity from any other country. But Mehbooba must walk the talk and back a Hindu for J&K’s CM," he said.