Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar visits his ancestral village in Maharashtra

Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar began his private India trip in the last week of December by visiting his ancestral village Varad in the coastal Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra.

Although Varadkar has visited India earlier, this was his first visit to Varad, the place his father Dr. Ashok Varadkar hails from. Ashok Varadkar, a doctor, had moved to the United Kingdom in the 1960s.

According to reports in India media as well as in Irish News, the Taoiseach did not avail any security while in India.

During his visit to Varad on Dec. 29, Varadkar was accompanied by his parents, his sisters and their husbands, his partner and “some grandchildren.” News reports in the India media said that after the villagers felicitated him, Varadkar said that it was a “special moment” as three generations of his family were present, as he visited "a place of my grandfather.” He also told the local media that although he is now on “a private visit here as of now, but I would like to visit this place again in the official capacity.” A report in Quit said that also visited the temple of the village deity.

During the interaction with the villagers, Varadkar told them that he was aware of a few words of Marathi. Varadkar conversed in English and his cousin Shubhada Varadkar, who resides in Mumbai, translated it for the locals.

The following day he traveled to Goa with his family where he ushered in the New Year. According to reports, he stayed at a plush resort in North Goa district. He left for Delhi and then flew back to Dublin on Jan. 1.

Varadkar, the son of an Indian doctor from Mumbai and an Irish nurse, was sworn-in as Ireland’s prime minister in June 2017. He became the youngest and first openly gay prime minister in the majority-Catholic country. The new ruling Fine Gael leader won 57 votes in the Irish Parliament against 50 for his nomination as premier, while some 45 parliamentarians abstained in the vote, the Independent reported.

Varadkar’s parents, Ashok and Miriam, met in Slough, and lived in Leicester and India, returning to Dublin in 1973. The couple has three children: Sophia, a neurologist in Great Ormond Street Hospital in London; Sonia, a midwife in the Coombe Hospital in Dublin; and Leo, who is also a qualified GP.

A Village magazine profile on Varadkar says he was brought up Catholic, and educated at St. Francis National School in his hometown of Blanchardstown. A trained physician, educated at King’s Hospital School, Palmerstown and Trinity College- Dublin, Varadkar has represented the Dublin-West constituency in parliament since 2007.

After graduation, Varadkar spent several years working as a junior doctor in Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown before qualifying as a GP in 2010. He was only 20 and in his second year in medical school when he contested the local elections in 1999 — but he only scored 380 first preference votes and was eliminated on the fifth count, The Irish Independent reported.

Varadkar was co-opted onto Fingal County Council in 2004, before being elected to the Irish Parliament in the 2007 general election. He was immediately appointed as Fine Gael’s spokesman for Enterprise, Trade and Employment. He was re-elected in 2011 when the party came into power and was made transport minister. In a cabinet reshuffle in 2014, Varadkar replaced James Reilly as health minister.

He was returned to the Dail in the 2016 general election and was subsequently handed the job of Social Protection Minister. A big music fan, Varadkar regularly attends the Electric Picnic festival. He is also a big sports fan and a regular at soccer and rugby games.

Coming Out In a radio interview on Jan. 18, 2015, on the occasion of his 36th birthday, Varadkar revealed he was gay, becoming the first openly gay cabinet minister in Irish history. He was a prominent supporter of the Yes campaign in the same-sex marriage referendum the following May. “It is not something that defines me,” he told the listeners.

“I’m not a half-Indian politician or a doctor or a politician or a gay politician for that matter,” he said, adding, “It’s just a part of who I am, it doesn’t define me, it is part of my character I suppose.”

Four months after his announcement, Ireland became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage by a public vote in 2015. The New York Times said it put the country “at the vanguard of social change”. Should Varadkar become the prime minister, Ireland would just be the fourth country to ever have an openly gay head of government.

Prior to his 2019 visit, Varadkar has visited India only twice in his 38 years — first as a 14-year-old and then in 2011 as a transport minister. While in Delhi, Varadkar met business, aviation, tourism and education ministers. In September 2015, Varadkar was among those who received India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his maiden visit to Ireland.

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