Rishi Sunak's 'overjoyed' Indian relatives celebrate his victory

A 'wave of happiness' has gripped his grandfather's ancestral village where everyone is 'proud of their son'

Subhash Berry, 74, the cousin of Rishi Sunak's mother Usha, cutting a cake to celebrate him becoming prime minister. Photo: Subhash Berry
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Rishi Sunak’s ascent to the top job in UK politics has brought a wave of happiness at his maternal grandfather’s ancestral village in India’s northern state of Punjab where some overjoyed relatives threw a grand party to celebrate the news.

Mr Sunak, 42, was chosen by MPs as the UK’s prime minister earlier this week.

His victory is historic because he is the first person of Asian descent to lead Britain and the first leader to be sworn in by King Charles.

Mr Sunak was born in Southampton to father Yashvir Sunak, a retired doctor, and mother Usha Sunak, a pharmacist, both of Indian descent.

The investment banker turned politician is the youngest British prime minister in 210 years. He is also Britain's first Hindu prime minister.

He is married to Akshata Murthy, the daughter of Infosys co-founder Narayan Murthy. The couple have two daughters, Krishna and Anoushka.

New UK prime minister Rishi Sunak with his wife Akshata Murthy. PA

Both his grandfathers were born in undivided Punjab province in British India before moving to Africa and then moving to the UK in the 1960s.

His maternal grandfather Raghubir Berry, 92, was born in Ludhiana in the northern state and had migrated to East Africa in early 1950s. He later moved to the UK.

At Mr Berry’s ancestral village in Ludhiana, his nephew Subhash Berry, 74, said a “wave of happiness” has gripped the village as everyone is “proud of their son”.

“Everybody in the village is proud … he is so young and he has become the PM of a country that ruled over us for centuries. He is not just a member of our family but the whole village,” Subhash Berry told The National.

“It is human nature. We may not be in touch with him but we are proud of him. He is a proud Hindu too.”

He said it is a moment of pride to see a person of Indian origin becoming the prime minister of the country that once ruled India.

The Berrys were a close-knit family. Even after Raghubir Berry moved to Africa, they remained in touch.

“His grandfather was my youngest uncle. He used to visit the village once every four-five years. My auntie, Sunak’s grandmother, was not born in India and we never met her.

“But we had good relations with our uncle and were like any other family. The women in the family speak with Usha over the phone sometimes,” Mr Berry said.

Mr Berry said that the family has never met Mr Sunak but had met his uncle in 2009 when he was in India for Mr Sunak’s wedding.

Locals at Ludhiana, the ancestral village of Mr Sunak's grandfather Raghubir Berry, gathered to celebrate Mr Sunak's victory. Photo: Subhash Berry

“Rishi got married in 2009 but my wife died a week after. My uncle had paid us a visit. That was the last time we met. Over the years, our connection has weakened but we are a family and that love and pride would always remain,” he said.

Mr Berry said that the whole family spread across many Indian states were following the news and were elated when Mr Sunak was finally selected for the prime minister’s post.

They even organised a party to celebrate the moment.

“We distributed sweets and cut a cake. Relatives and villagers gathered together for the celebration,” he said.

Updated: October 28, 2022, 12:03 PM
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