New Delhi: Indian tech titan N R Narayana Murthy’s son-in-law Rishi Sunak is all set to fill in heavyweight Tory leader and former foreign minister William Hague’s large shoes
The Conservative Party has fielded the Oxford and Stanford educated Sunak from Richmond (Yorks) for the upcoming British general elections on Thursday.
Hague, who stepped down from active politics last July, is the local MP here – known as an “ultra-safe Conservative seat”.
A geographically massive constituency that covers a vast swathe of rural North Yorkshire, the Conservatives have had a field run here in past elections.
In the 2010 elections with Hague as its candidate, Tories won 63% of the vote share here followed by Lib Dems who got only 19% of the votes.
While the Conservatives won 33,541 votes, Lib Dems won only 10,205 followed by Labour which won 8,150 votes.
In 2001 for example, Conservatives won 59% of the votes here while in 1997 it won 47% of votes and in 1992 garnered 62% of the votes.
His opponents include Labour party candidate and trade union leader Mike Hill, Lib Dem candidate and teacher John Harris and UKIP accountant Matthew Cooke.
Sunak met Murthy’s daughter Akshata in California and now live in the UK with their two daughters Krishna and Anoushka.
An ardent fan of cricket and movies, Sunak who co-founded a large investment firm, working with companies from Silicon Valley to Bangalore was born in Hampshire and educated at Winchester College and Oxford University.
Experts say that winning from this seat is bound to put Sunak into the limelight and may also catapult him into a ministerial role if the David Cameron led Conservative Party return to power post May 7.
Most of Sunak’s constituency are small villages and hamlets – the only towns being that of Northallerton, Richmond, Stokesley and Leyburn.
The local economy relies upon agriculture and tourism and is therefore the focus of Sunak’s campaigning.
Sunak says he will stand up for the farmers of his constituency and “fight to relieve the costly burden of EU regulation. Farmers have to contend with complicated new greening requirements, helpful pesticides being banned, burdensome electronic sheep tags that don’t even work and burial requirements that are outdated. It can’t be fair that our farmers follow the rules and watch European competitors flout them to their advantage”.
One of Sunak’s main campaigning points is supporting the local Friarage Hospital.
Impressing voters by saying “community healthcare is in my blood,” Sunak who grew up in a NHS household – his dad is a GP and mother a local chemist, said “Friarage hospital is a much-loved local institution that employs over a 1000 people and provides vital healthcare services. I will push NHS executives and lobby hard to ensure the hospital remains a strong provider of health care services in our area”.
Sunak also promises to boost small and medium size businesses of North Yorkshire by lowering taxes, reforming business rates, reducing regulation, incentivising investment, rewarding innovation and ensuring affordable finance. He has also made better mobile and broadband services in the constituency a key priority.
“Connectivity is essential. Farmers need to access livestock movement reports online, grandparents want to see their grandkids on Skype, rural businesses should be able to export all over the world, we must be able to call an ambulance wherever an accident happens, and everybody wants to stay informed. My time spent studying and working in Silicon Valley showed me how powerful technology can be in transforming our lives for the better,” he said.
Hague said “I’ve been hearing many people saying how well Rishi has been getting to know the area, knocking on doors and listening to local people. He is an exceptional individual and I believe he will be a strong and effective advocate for our community”.