London: A member of the UK delegation that had come to attend the Vibrant Gujarat summit had to quickly pack his bags and leave for London. Not many knew why, before they found out that he was appointed a Minister in the UK Cabinet. In fact, the front benches of the ruling Conservative Party in the UK will see its first Gujarati taking his place in the Cabinet soon. Lord Dolar Popat, a member of the delegation, has become the first person having origins in Gujarat to become a Minister. He has also been appointed as Lord-in-waiting in the House of Lords. Popat, whose parents hailed from Jam-jodhpur town of Jamnagar district, was appointed Minister for Business, Innovation and Skills and Transport.
He assumed office on January 14. Popat’s appointment was confirmed on January 9 by the Prime Minister’s spokesperson after the Queen’s formal approval. Popat replaces Viscount Younger of Leckie. “My family migrated from Jamjodhpur to Uganda in 1933 but they were forced to flee Idi Amin’s regime. I was 17-years-old then,’’ Popat recalled, while talking to reporter.
Popat worked as a waiter at a Wimpy restaurant during the day to fund his business studies classes at night. He became an accountant and went on to form a company that advised small companies on how to raise capital. His wealth grew after he founded the TLC Group, which owns several hotels and care homes across Britain.
Popat said: “It is an absolute honor to have been appointed as the government whip and have the chance to serve in Her Majesty’s government. I never imagined when I arrived in Britain 40 years ago that I would be so fortunate and I feel very humbled by the appointment.”