Even before Indian-origin Rishi Sunak was sworn in as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the great controversy started in India. Debate on whether what was possible in Britain can be done in today’s India. Civil society as well as government and opposition politicians got involved in that debate.
The controversy started around Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s tweet. As soon as it was confirmed that the Indian-born Sunak, 42, would be living at 10 Downing Street, Shashi Tharoor tweeted last Monday, “If it happens (Rishi PM), then we have to admit that the British have set a rare precedent for the whole world.” Apparently they put a minority in the most powerful position. We Indians are celebrating his rise. But think about it, can even be in this country?’
Apparently Tharoor was referring to the Muslim community in the minority context. But the controversy started because it was not written directly. Since Muslims and Sikhs have become presidents and prime ministers of the country. Veteran Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram made the same point as Tharoor. His tweet, ‘First Kamala Harris, now Rishi Sunak. The people of the United States and the United Kingdom have embraced minority citizens. He elected them to the highest positions in the government. I think the worshipers of supremacy in this country should learn from this.
PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti, the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, gave a shout out to the controversy by presenting the same thing in a different way. Highlighting Rishi Sunak’s election, he brought up the issue of CAA-NRC and took the rulers of the country single-handedly. Mehbooba tweeted, ‘We are proud to be the first Indian-origin Prime Minister of Britain. While the whole country is celebrating this success, we are gasping at the trap of divisive and discriminatory laws like CAA-NRC.’
Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Maitra, who has been vocal in criticizing the BJP, tweeted to congratulate Rishi, writing, ‘Britain is my second favorite country. Proud to have a British Asian at 10 Downing Street. May India become more tolerant in accepting people of all faiths from all sections of society.’
BJP cannot accept such criticism of the ruling party on the minority issue centered on Sunak’s success. Especially they are angry at Mehbooba Mufti’s tweet. BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad attacked him in a counter tweet on Tuesday and asked whether the former chief minister would accept a minority as chief minister in Jammu and Kashmir. Prasad writes, ‘Mehbooba Muftiji, will accept any minority for the post of Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir? Please reply.’ Prasad then wrote, ‘Manmohan Singh was the Prime Minister of the country for 10 years. APJ Abdul Kalam was an incredibly efficient president.’
The issue is also discussed on social media. Just as Muslims and Sikh minorities have become presidents in India, so too have Sikh prime ministers like Manmohan Singh. Contrary to this argument, it is also true that no Muslim has been Prime Minister of India in 75 years. No Hindu could even become the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir. Sonia Gandhi was also once objected to by a section of the Congress and the opposition, including the BJP.
Muslim representation at the central and state levels has also declined day by day in the last eight years since the BJP came to power. Journalist writer Akar Patel told how the film was a year ago. In December 2021, he wrote, ‘Currently there is not a single Muslim Chief Minister in any state of the country. 15 states have no Muslim ministers. 10 states have 1 Muslim minister each.
Most are responsible for minority development. Not a single Muslim member of the Lok Sabha has ever been in the ruling BJP, nor is there yet.’ Even in the Rajya Sabha, the BJP is now a Muslim-less party. In Muslim-majority states like Uttar Pradesh, the BJP has not fielded a single Muslim in the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls. Now the Hindutva BJP and the Muslim community are residents of two poles. However, the BJP has started pandering to the backward castes of the community to get Muslim support for the sake of votes.website
Shashi Tharoor asked the question, can this happen in India? Catching the gist of his question, journalist, writer and poet Pritish Nandi tweeted, ‘I don’t think that will ever happen. That’s right, apparently a minority became our Prime Minister for two terms (Manmohan Singh). But now it seems that will not be the case. In fact, it can be said to be impossible.