Priti Patel, Britain’s first Home Secretary of Indian origin, has her roots in Tarapur in Gujarat’s Anand district, from where her father Sushil Patel’s family comes.
Priti, Britain’s new Home Secretary, will be in charge of immigration, crime and policing, counter-terrorism and drugs policy. She is an old Eurosceptic and a powerful backer of Brexit, and one of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s main supporters within the Conservative Party. She also has a hard-right record and has thrown her weight behind a tougher asylum regime and a stricter immigration policy.
Born in London in March 1972 to Sushil and Anjana Patel, she went to school in Watford. She studied economics at Keele University, before completing her postgraduate studies at the University of Essex.
The family was a victim of the expulsion of Ugandan Asian minorities that was ordered by Idi Amin, the former President of Uganda, in 1970s, her relatives said.
“It was in the 1950s that my father and Priti’s grandfather moved to Uganda. They ran a convenience store there. We were all born in Kampala (the capital of Uganda) and grew up there until the Amin regime expelled us,” Kiran Patel, Priti’s father’s cousin, a resident of Vidyanagar and vice-president of Charusat Kelvani Mandal said.
“While Priti’s grandfather Kantibhai thought it was best to move to United Kingdom, my father decided to come back to India. Priti was born in Britain,” he added.
Their families were farmers until they moved to Uganda, Kiran, who is now a British national, said. “Sushil’s family was very well settled in Tarapur as farmers and also in Uganda, where they ran their store. After moving to the UK, they took up jobs in that country. The British government helped all migrants a lot,” he said.
The landowning Patels, most of whom are NRIs, get the name “Charotari Patels” from central Gujarat’s Charotar region, where they have their roots.
Kiran said that although Sushil and his younger brother Kirit regularly visit their homes in Gujarat, Priti has not visited Tarapur. Her visit to Gujarat in the past has been limited to representing the UK at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit, he added.
“We are not in direct touch with her or her family. However, I am in very close contact with her uncle Kirit, and her parents also regularly visit India every couple of years. It’s a matter of pride for us that she is one of our family, and has achieved so much,” Kiran said.