India trip wil bring back memories for Cameron, team members

July 26th, 2010 - 9:17 pm ICT by IANS  

David Cameron By Venkata Vemuri
London, July 26 (IANS) For some of the British queen’s representatives, including Prime Minister David Cameron, their visit to India would evoke bitter-sweet memories from the past.

Cameron last visited India as the Conservative party leader in 2006 as part of his globe-trotting to spread the message of social and economic inclusion. On September 5, 2006, the second day of his four-day visit, he was in Mumbai. He and shadow chancellor — now chancellor — David Osborne were on their way to the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel for an official lunch when an accident occurred.

A minibus containing his party aides, a diplomat and British journalists collided with a factory worker, Prema Naik, severely injuring her. The accident happened as Cameron’s convoy of three vehicles negotiated Mumbai’s traffic in a downpour. Cameron’s car, which was ahead of the minibus, was not involved in the collision and the Tory leader was not aware of what had happened until later.

For business secretary Vince Cable, India has a special place in his heart. His first wife, Olympia Rebelo, whom he married in Nairobi in 1968, was a Kenyan Asian of Goan heritage. After her death from cancer in 2001, Cable visited India.

In 2009, he told the Daily Mail about his visit: “It was a kind of pilgrimage. I wanted to say goodbye. I visited Olympia’s family and then travelled…around Delhi and Calcutta. While there, I promised myself that I would plunge back into life again.” Cable was back in India in 2008 as part of a Liberal Democrat delegation.

In contrast, Foreign Secretary William Hague came to India for his “secret” honeymoon the day after his marriage to Ffiona in 1997. He kept the honeymoon destination such a secret that BBC News reported on December 20 that year: “Although they have not revealed their honeymoon destination it is believed they are staying in India for two weeks.” It was confirmed much later that the couple spent some memorable time at the Taj Lake Place in Udaipur.

Incidentally, the man at whose house in Surrey in England Hague spent his last night as a bachelor is also accompanying him on the current trip. He is Lord Sebastian Coe, Olympian, who was Hague’s chief-of-staff some years ago.

Coe, currently chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, himself has connections with India. His mother was half Indian, the daughter of a wealthy hotelier from Punjab, Sardari Lal, who once owned a famous hotel in Delhi’s Connaught Place. On an official trip to Delhi last year for the Commonwealth Games’ international legacy programme, Coe had taken time off to wander in private around Connaught Place.

(Venkata Vemuri can be contacted at

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