Indian-origin lawmakers Alok Sharma, Rishi Sunak take oath on Bhagwad Gita in UK’s House of Commons
British cabinet minister Alok Sharma and chief secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak took oath as members of the parliament in the new House of Commons on Tuesday holding the Bhagwad Gita, reflecting increasing diversity in the British parliament in recent years.
Agra-born Sharma, 52, who is the International Development secretary, was elected for the fourth time from Reading West, while Sunak, 39, who is the son-in-law of Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy, was re-elected the third time from Richmond, Yorkshire.
Holding a copy of the Gita, Sharma and Sunak said the standard words of the oath: “I (name of member) swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God”.
Members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords take an oath of allegiance to the crown. There is no set list of sacred texts MPs may use. Members decide which text they prefer and every effort is made to ensure it is provided. If they object to swearing the oath, they can make a solemn affirmation.
The House of Commons elected in Thursday’s election is the most diverse with the largest intake from ethnic minority communities in British history: 65 non-whites, including 15 of Indian origin, and 19 first-time MPs.
As most members, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson took the oath holding the Bible, he said: “I would say it is one of the best parliaments this country has ever produced with more female members than ever before, with more black and minority ethnic members than ever before”.
According to Josh Westerling of think-tank British Future, “The rapid acceleration in this decade is now helping to give us a more representative parliament. The number of ethnic minority MPs has risen at each of the last nine general elections, since the first four black and Asian MPs of the post-war era were elected in 1987”.
“But progress was very slow for that breakthrough generation, edging up from four to fifteen MPs over several elections in the two decades between 1987 and 2005”.