The election of Indian-origin Rishi Sunak as the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister is “pretty astounding” and a “ground-breaking milestone”, United States President Joe Biden said.

In his remarks at the White House Diwali celebration on Monday, the president said the festival of lights is a reminder that each of us had the power to dispel darkness and bring light to the world.

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“It's a choice. And we make that choice every day. It's true in our lives and in the life of this nation, especially in the life of a democracy, whether here in America or for the families back in India marking 75 years of independence,” he said.

“And whether it's the United Kingdom, where just today we've got the news that Rishi Sunak is now the Prime Minister,” Biden said amidst a big cheer from the select guests of more than 200 people consisting of Indian Americans and members of his administration.

“And the Conservative Party! (Sunak) is expected to become the prime minister, I think, tomorrow when he goes to see the king. A ground-breaking milestone.,” Biden said acknowledging the immigrant Indian community’s achievements.

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Reflecting the soul

Claiming that his dispensation had more Asian Americans than ever, Biden said he wanted to thank the community for its contribution. “It's a simple message. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you,” the president said.

Thanking Indian Americans for making Diwali a part of the American culture, he said, “As we see it across the country, opening homes and hearts and exchanging gifts and sweets and hosting feasts for family and friends, organising cultural programs that bring us together… you contribute to every part of American life. Thank you for reflecting the soul of who we are as a nation,” the president added.

In a statement earlier, Biden wished a happy Diwali to the more than one billion Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists celebrating the festival of lights in the US, India and around the world.

“As we host the official White House Diwali reception, we are honoured to light the diya surrounded by members of the most diverse administration in American history—led by Vice President Kamala Harris, the first Black American and South Asian American to become vice president,” he said.

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However, he cautioned that there was darkness “always lurking”. “American history has been a constant struggle between its ideals that we are all created equal and the harsh reality that we have never fully lived up to it. By marking the victory of light over darkness, Diwali is a reminder that each of us has the power to bring light to the world, whether here in America or around the world,” he said.

“With prayers, dances, fireworks and sweets, may all who observe Diwali enjoy the chance to celebrate and connect, to feel the pride of community, and to remember the power in the gathering of light,” Biden added.

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