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Au Contraire: Rishi Sunak Tax Scandal, Just Tax Evasion Or Also Racism?

The fondness for 'Dishy Rishy' has gradually faded away. This British Emmanuel Macron in the making is generating headlines for all the wrong reasons.

YOUNGEST and one of the richest members of UK Parliament, whose meteoric rise in British politics prompted political analysts to call him the “prime minister in waiting”, Rishi Sunak quit as the Chancellor of the Exchequer on Tuesday. Stepping down from the ministerial post, Sunak said, “The public rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously. I recognise this may be my last ministerial job, but I believe these standards are worth fighting for and that is why I am resigning. My letter to the Prime Minister below.”

Here’s a look at Sunak’s career and controversies.

He recently found himself embroiled in a scandal which he most likely won’t survive. His multimillionaire wife evading taxes on her global fortune and her US green card are making him a liability for the conservatives. The fondness for ‘Dishy Rishy’ has gradually faded away. This British Emmanuel Macron in the making is generating headlines for all the wrong reasons. Is this just a scandal of epic proportions or does it also expose the underlying racism at play here?

Rich Man And A Tax Manipulator Chancellor, What Really Happened?

Rishi Sunak’s rise in political circles and decent popularity among average British voter suggested a different story in 2020 when he replaced his boss Sajid Javed as the chancellor to the exchequer. The model for multi-ethnic Britain is a third generation Indian immigrant who studied in Oxford University and later at Stanford. Being the son of NHS general practitioner, he’s been proud of his Britishness.

As an immigrant, soon to be responsible for managing Britain’s finances, Sunak ticked all the right boxes. He is a staunch Brexiteer who was elected MP for Richmond in Yorkshire in 2015. A Thatcherite Tory with razor sharp brain and deep understanding of intricate financial issues made him quite favourable among the modern conservative voter block. He came across as an interesting choice as compared to the wobbly and chaotic Boris Johnson whose office is now threatened by the great party scandal.

Seasons of Scandals

But the entitled and wealthy Maharaja of the Yorkshire Dales landed in deep trouble. The first season of scandal aired in 2020 when his wife Akshata Murthy’s stake in her father N R Narayana Murthy’s company, Infosys, was scrutinised and Sunak came under attack for not disclosing his financial information. The couple’s wealthy lifestyle and tax dodging irked both British media and the public despite his ministerial code of conduct coming to light, the issue took a back seat because it explored the lengths of ethical conundrums and survived legal challenges.

Again in 2021, fresh revelations were made about his father-in-law’s company Infosys and its operations in Russia. While Sunak had been asking companies to shut shop in Moscow, Infosys engineering centre in the Russian capital was running in full swing. A quick damage control by shutting operations in Moscow saved Sunak temporarily but for the British press, his PR game wasn’t strong enough to avert another crisis that would demolish his bright career in politics.

Soon the focus shifted to his Wife Akshata Murthy’s non-domicile status which gives her the liberty to not pay taxes on overseas income which accounts for 39.35 per cent taxes. This controversy became tad bit difficult to defend because keeping non-domicile status means intention of returning to India. As the wife of the exchequer, who is a leading political figure in Britain, these developments didn’t settle well at all. Soon Dishy Rishy became the mess that British tabloid saw a great opportunity in. And used it to tell the world that a brown face can’t lead a country with a hideous imperial and colonial past. Imagine a country’s press that has little respect for its American import for a monarch, Megan Markle, where does a Rishi Sunak fit in?

Underlying Racism

Before the three seasons of tax evasion scandals, Chancellor Sunak was the leading political figure to replace Boris Johnson. He was hailed as the only choice to the extent that many right wing analysts praised his great calibre and exceptional public speaking skills. Some even suggested that he was a better option than Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and called a total rookie in the great office.

Despite being called an instinctive tax-cutter, his place in the top office was being cemented with careful considerations. Given the fact that very few people had access to Sunak’s finances, the timing becomes crucial here as to who and why was his wife’s tax status leaked.

Despite the seriousness of allegations which may be credible, the smear campaign has layers of racism which are difficult to ignore. Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Health Secretary Sajid Javid — three brown-skinned powerful politicians — are getting a bit too much for Britain to handle, especially when one was in the race for the top post.

Let’s not forget Sunak in his childhood has been subject to the P word like many immigrants who struggle with rampant racism. The list is limited to some fortunate Asians who somehow fit the bill and can be easily discarded. Having brown faces in high places means nothing if it’s not backed by a genuine desire to change racist attitudes. If Boris Johnson could survive a no-confidence vote for hosting Christmas parties at 10 downing street at the height of the pandemic with dead bodies piling up in hospitals. It is impossible to think that a traditional right wing party like the conservatives would give a man of colour to lead the country.