N R Narayana Murthy, the founder of Infosys may have shunned opportunity to join politics long time ago, but another member of his immediate family has made his debut in active politics, though not in India. Murthy’s son-in-law, Rishi Sunak, was recently declared the Conservative party candidate for the Richmond, North Yorkshire seat for the UK general elections in May 2015.
Sunak is married to Murthy’s daughter, Akshata, who he met when they were both doing their MBA at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he was a Fulbright scholar. The two got married in August 2009 in Bengaluru and lived in the US before shifting to the UK, where Sunak’s father worked as a general practitioner with the National Health Service and his mother ran a local chemist shop.
“I grew up watching my parents serve our local community with dedication… As an MP, I want to make that same positive difference to people,” Sunak, who is also an alumnus of Oxford University, says on his website.
When contacted, Naryana Murthy declined to comment on the development. However, in an interview to Business Standard in May 2010, Murthy had said he had declined an offer by the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to join the government as he was never keen on taking on public roles. Besides, rumours around him being considered as a candidate for President also surfaced on many occasions couple of years ago which were never proven true.
“I was offered a position in 1999 by Sri Vajpayee, but I was not interested. First of all, we were taking the company to Nasdaq at that time. Secondly, I don’t know whether I can succeed in an environment where people are not disciplined; where people don’t believe in meritocracy and where people put their own interests ahead of the societal interest,” he had said. “There are many people who can work in this environment, but I am not one of those.”
34-year-old Sunak, who is contesting the British general election for the parliamentary seat, has worked with The Childrens Investment Fund, an activist investment fund (it sold its stake in Coal India in October, two years after it sued the company’s directors and the Indian government for violating international treaties and not protecting the interests of minority shareholders), and the Theleme Fund, a global equity hedge fund launched by a TCI founder.
Sunak is also a director at Catamaran Ventures, the Murthy family investment office, as is his wife, and he was also head of Black and Minority Ethnic Research Unit at Policy Exchange, a neoliberal think tank. Last year, Sunak and Akshata, who launched a clothing design company, made a donation to their alma mater’s Centre for Social Innovation, described by the centre as “a generous gift”. The couple has two children.
“He (Sunak) is very keen on establishing himself in politics, something which is new to Murthy family,” sources closed to Murthy’s family said. “He is a second generation British Indian. His parents though were born in Africa, worked in the UK where Sunak was born and raised,” it added.
As the Tory candidate, Sunak’s priorities for his constituency include backing local businesses, improving connectivity and supporting farmers, according to his website. Around 200 party supporters chose Sunak from a shortlist of four at a meeting in the constituency in October, the BBC reported.