For the past six years since he has been the resident of 10 Downing Street, the British prime minister, David Cameron, has hosted a Diwali party. This year was no different. With his battleaxe minister for employment, Priti Patel, guiding him through a photo-hungry clutch of British Indian guests - mainly those with some links with the Conservative Party -Cameron was an epitome of affable charm, qualities that come to him quite naturally.
In a speech that resonated with his brand of kind, caring, new conservatism, Cameron elaborated on the great success story of British Indians. Yes, he admitted, there were still glass ceilings they had to encounter in many spheres but these too were being negotiated. With their commitment to the values that are quintessentially British, Cameron said he looked forward to the day when the United Kingdom would have a British-Indian prime minister. To cap it all, and amid some vigorous claps, he said he looked forward to welcoming Prime Minister Narendra Modi the following day both in Downing Street and at Chequers, his official country house.
Modi, it would be fair to say, fascinated him. "I find it hard," he said "to fill up Wembley Town Hall and here you will have Prime Minister Modi speaking to a full house in Wembley Stadium."
Cameron has a reputation for saying and doing the "right thing" to suit the occasion. But this was not the former public relations man in him speaking. Like most Britons, Cameron was genuinely intrigued by Modi's ability to draw large, enthusiastic crowds - even in the UK, where the audience doesn't vote in Indian elections. In addition, Cameron has personally invested in the UK-India relationship - having made three visits to India before an Indian prime minister returned the courtesy. There is, of course, an innocent explanation as to why he waited 18 months before his Air India flight touched down in London: he had been quite wrongly advised that Labour would win the general election and that, under the circumstances, it would be better for him to wait for the new prime minister.