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British PM Rishi Sunak, wife Akshata Murty light lamps at Diwali event in 10 Downing Street

The couple marked the first year of Sunak becoming the British Prime Minister by adorning the residence with marigolds and candles. Sunak also joked about not saying much about England's performance in the Cricket World Cup and "switching" to the Indian side due to the team's impressive performance.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee London Updated on: November 09, 2023 13:23 IST
UK PM Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty lighting
Image Source : 10 DOWNING STREET/X UK PM Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty lighting Diwali lamps at 10 Downing Street.

As the occasion of Diwali nears, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty lit lamps to celebrate the occasion of Diwali at a special reception at 10 Downing Street. Sunak was accompanied by members of the Indian diaspora, parliamentarians, entrepreneurs and Bollywood celebrities.

The couple marked the first year of Sunak's Prime Ministership of the United Kingdom by decorating the Downing Street residence in a theme of vibrant marigolds and candles on Wednesday evening. Sunak and Murty reflected upon the "extra special" Diwali as the UK PM recalled his visit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India during the G20 Summit in September.

“Diwali is an incredibly special time for all of us and our families, but for me, now, it also brings back amazing memories of becoming Prime Minister this time last year. It's been a year of incredibly hard work, some real progress, and of course, memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life… It was an incredible moment to go to India for the G20 as the first British Indian Prime Minister, and be there for India's big moment on the world stage with Modiji,” said Sunak.

The British PM also joked about the ongoing Men's Cricket World Cup, saying it was best "less said" about England's team and talked about "switching" to the Indian side of the family, given Team India's impressive win streak in the tournament.

Sunak recalls challenges and family values

The 43-year-old UK leader looked back on his first year as the Prime Minister and said that it was the values of his parents Yashvir and Usha that sustained him during numerous challenges to his leadership. 

"Values of hard work, a commitment to service, understanding the value of education in all things and making the right decisions, not just the easy ones… over the last year, I've spoken to quite a bit about my family's story – about my Naniji boarding her first-ever plane to come here from East Africa over 60 years ago, a journey that I know will be familiar to many of you in this room. It was a story about hope, faith, ambition, and putting the next generation first. We should be filled similarly with hope and ambition,” said Sunak, whose grandmother migrated from Tanzania.

He also wished 'Shubh Diwali' to all present. Meanwhile, temples across the UK contributed to an Annakut display as festive offerings to God and children from the Avanti Court Primary School recited religious shlokas at the reception. At the event, Sunak and his wife interacted with guests including Indian High Commissioner to the UK Vikram Doraiswami and Bollywood stars Akshay Kumar and wife Twinkle Khanna.

"Shubh Diwali to everyone across the UK and around the world celebrating from this weekend!" said 10 Downing Street in a post on X.

Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his UK counterpart Rishi Sunak discussed the progress on the Free Trade Agreement during their telephone conversation. India and the UK are negotiating a Free Trade Agreement, talks for which had begun in 2022. The 12th round of negotiations for the UK-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA) took place from August 8-31 this year.

(with agencies input)

ALSO READ | PM Modi, Rishi Sunak hold talks, discuss FTA progress, India's strong performance at Cricket World Cup 2023

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