The rise of Rishi Sunak to Prime Minister is “our Barack Obama moment”, according to the president of the Hindu temple set up by the new Tory leader’s grandfather.
The Vedic Society Hindu Temple in Southampton was established by Sunak’s grandfather Ramdas Sunak, in 1971, with his father, Yash, continuing his connection as a trustee during the 1980s.
Sunak regularly visits the temple in the Hampshire city where he was born and he last attended in July when he provided a meal for worshippers which his family does every year.
Sanjay Chandarana, president of the temple, told the PA news agency: “He comes regularly to the temple, even now.
“He did that in July, just a couple of days before Rishi resigned as chancellor, they offered a family prayer here and he came for the lunch.
“I am sure as soon as he becomes Prime Minister he will definitely come to the temple for prayer, I know that is going to happen.”
He added: “It’s a proud moment, the temple is buzzing right now, a lot of people are showing their own pictures with him, when he was here before he took pictures with every single person who was in temple, 300 people.
“It’s like for the UK, it’s the Barack Obama moment, where a non-white person becomes Prime Minister for the first time, also a person from Indian origin and Hindu which is another dimension and everyone is very proud.”
Mr Chandarana said that Sunak’s appointment as PM showed that integration was working in the UK.
He said: “I work in an investment bank, I am a managing director in Canary Wharf, people of all generations feel there is some issue, but in the UK, everyone is properly integrated now I would say.
“Last time, he didn’t win because of politics, it was nothing to do with anything else because he became chancellor previously, if race or colour were an issue he wouldn’t have become a chancellor, Boris wouldn’t have picked him.
“It will unite the country, because he practises Hindu religion religiously and one of the key values we have is the whole world is our family and we believe in unity in that respect.
“The biggest challenge is the economic challenge and the political uncertainty, that is something he will have to address.”
Mr Chandarana said that Sunak’s win coincided with Diwali making it an auspicious moment and an extra reason for his temple to celebrate.
He said: “We increased our firework time from 15 minutes to 20 minutes. Also when we learned he was going to be Prime Minister we offered a special prayer and he will feature in my Diwali speech.
“It’s going to be another festival within a festival, the icing on the cake.”
He added that he believed Sunak would be a good Prime Minister, saying: “He is an intellectual guy, he looks at things practically, he is humble at the same time, he understands what is required, he will lead the country through the economic challenge and I believe he will be a good Prime Minister without a shadow of a doubt.
“And I think he will unite the party, I am not a politician, I am talking about what I know about him and his family, they are humble and honest people.
“Possibly rare for a politician, he is honest, he will be upfront and direct about things and say things the way it is. He will do a good job.”
“We are looking forward to that call from his father or his security team saying he is going to come, it’s always a proud moment to meet him, I’ve met him as chancellor and now I can meet him as Prime Minister.”