British politician Rishi Sunak waving outside the party's headquarters in London, Britain. (Photo | AFP)
British politician Rishi Sunak waving outside the party's headquarters in London, Britain. (Photo | AFP)

Namma Sunak

As Bengalureans celebrate Rishi Sunak’s ascension to power in the UK, people who have known him share with CE their experience of interacting with him

BENGALURU: Rishi Sunak was elected as the leader of the United Kingdom’s Conservative Party and the next Prime minister on Monday, thereby becoming the first person with roots in India to reach 10, Downing street. Dubbed ‘Bengaluru’s own son-in-law’, Sunak’s sudden ascension to power was cause for much celebration amongst Bengalureans given his connection to the city.

Apart from being born to an Indian-origin family, Sunak is married to Infosys co-founder and chairman Narayana Murthy’s daughter Akshata Murty. The couple, who met while they were both pursuing an MBA at Stanford University, tied the knot in a quiet and simple ceremony at The Leela Palace, Bengaluru in 2009, with just family and friends present.

T V Mohandas Pai, a padmashree awardee and the current chairman of Manipal University, who also was in attendance calls him a ‘very earnest, suave and polished young man’. “I met him during his wedding to Akshata, he was very confident and wore himself well. Despite being very accomplished, he was very respectful to everyone,” recalls Pai, who also served as the director of Infosys until 2011. Pai believes Sunak’s ascension to the UK’s highest government office shows the progress that the former colonial power has achieved in the last few decades.

During a family visit to India a few years ago, Sunak visited one of the most iconic restaurants in Bengaluru – Vidyarthi Bhavan – and savoured authentic South Indian dishes along with his family. “Rishi visited our restaurant in 2019, along with his entire family – with his kids, wife Akshatha, and his in-laws. Narayana Murthy and his wife Sudha Murty are our regular patrons.

On many occasions they have visited Vidyarthi Bhavan with their children and grandchildren,” says Arun Adiga, owner of Vidyarthi Bhavan. “It was during one such occasion they brought Rishi Sunak, along with their entire family with them. Sunak and Akshata had come back from the UK for a visit and they came to us for evening tiffin. And they tried items from our usual evening menu, like Rava vade, masala dosae and khara bath.”

Adiga expressed surprise at Sunak’s sudden ascension to the top job in the UK, adding that he had little idea about him when the former visited his restaurant. “To be honest, at the time we had little idea about who Rishi Sunak was, let alone that he would become the UK’s next prime minister. We were told by Sudha Murty that he was into economics and politics in London,” Adiga shares.

Anil Shetty, an activist, and politician from the city shares an interesting anecdote about Sunak from the time he met the latter during a visit to London. “The first time I met Sunak, he was still chancellor in the Boris Johnson government and it was during an official meeting in London,” says Shetty, who was part of the Indian delegation at the Indian Global Forum organized earlier this year in London. “The first thing I told him was that he should give a shot at becoming PM. ‘You should go for it’, I said and he said that his time is yet to come, and within three weeks he had resigned as chancellor of the exchequer. And now he is the prime minister,” he adds.

The New Indian Express