“Akshata Murty, the Indian wife of Britain’s next Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, is fabulously rich thanks to her billionaire father, a fortune that is attracting controversy as ordinary people reel from a cost-of-living crisis,” wrote leading news agency AFP.
The media reports largely reflect the attacks of UK’s left-of-centre Labour Party against Rishi Sunak.
“Sunak and his wife sit on a fortune of 730,000,000 pounds. That’s around twice the estimated wealth of King Charles III,” tweeted Labour MP Nadia Whittome.
“Akshata Murty’s stake in Infosys is worth around $700 million, making her richer than the late Queen Elizabeth II, whose personal wealth was estimated at about $460 million by the 2021 Sunday Times Rich List,” the AFP report adds.
“Rishi Sunak’s elevation to the top of UK politics brings a number of firsts. He’s the youngest prime minister in more than two centuries; the first Hindu to hold the office; and his family will — in nominal terms — be the wealthiest to occupy 10 Downing Street,” another top news agency Bloomberg reported.
The Labour Party has targeted the first couple by asserting that it would be disconnected with the hopes and aspirations of the ordinary people because of its privilege and wealth. Jeremy Corbyn, a former left-wing leader of the main Labour opposition but who now sits as an independent MP, added Sunak “will look after the interests of the 1 percent”.
“The 99 percent will pay for their protection,” he tweeted.
In coronating Rishi Sunak, Tory MPs have decided that a former hedge fund manager is a safe pair of hands.
The question is: for who?
The new Prime Minister will look after the interests of the 1%. The 99% will pay for their protection.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) October 25, 2022
Sunak’s political rivals were earlier targeting 42-year-old Akshata on the ground that she earned tens of millions in dividends in recent years, but her “non-domicile” status in the UK shielded some of this income from British taxes. They quite ignored the fact that as an Indian citizen she did not have to pay any tax in UK for dividends earned in a home country.
However, to blunt the public anger that was working against her husband politically, Akshata decided to pay tax in the UK on all her income earned worldwide including India.
“I do this because I want to, not because the rules require me to. “My decision… will not change the fact that India remains the country of my birth, citizenship, parents’ home and place of domicile. But I love the UK too,” she said in a tweet.
The couple, who have two school going daughters has also been criticised for their lavish lifestyle. For instance, Sunak incurred the wrath of the media for wearing expensive Prada shoes on a visit to a construction site in July.
However, to be fair the UK media has also reported that Akshata’s mother, Sudha, ensured an austere upbringing for her children with no television at home and insisting they go to school in an auto-rickshaw like their classmates. It has also been mentioned Akshata’s wedding with Sunak in 2009 was a relatively modest affair by the standards of India’s rich.
The couple met at Stanford University in the USA where Akshata was studying in the MBA course while Rishi Sunak was a Fulbright scholar with a first-class degree from Oxford.