Ex-taoiseach Bertie Ahern has joked that Leo Varadkar should immediately head to India on a trade mission if he wins the Fine Gael leadership contest.
r Ahern, who held the office of Taoiseach from 1997 until 2008, made the comment as he addressed a conference of former world leaders in Dublin yesterday.
Among the guests were a number of Indian policy experts with whom Mr Ahern discussed the prospect of Mr Varadkar's election. The Social Protection Minister's father is a doctor who is originally from Mumbai, while his mother is a nurse from Waterford.
"I found it quite interesting that our Indian colleagues were able to tell me so much about the likely favourite [to be Taoiseach]. He is already a big favourite in India," Mr Ahern said.
"When I was told that his community in India was one of the small communities, I said 'that's interesting'. But then I found that community has 140 million people."
And he joked: "Maybe the first thing we should do is send him on a trade mission to India. We have good contacts here that will help us."
Already Mr Varadkar's expected election is making global headlines.
The Dublin TD has previously spoken about his background, saying: "I'm not a half-Indian politician, or a doctor politician, or a gay politician for that matter. It's just part of who I am, it doesn't define me, it is part of my character I suppose."
Fine Gael parliamentary party endorsements for leader
The Fine Gael parliamentary party makes up 65pc of the total electorate.
That makes each of the 73 members' votes worth 0.9pc of the total ballot.
Of the remaining electorate, 230 party councillors account for 10pc, while the remaining 25pc is rank and file members.
|Richard Bruton -Minister||Simon Harris - Minister|
|Frances Fitzgerald - Minister||Damien English - Minister|
|Michael Ring - Minister||Dara Murphy - Minister|
|Eoghan Murphy - Minister||David Stanton - Minister|
|Sean Kyne - Minister||Marcella Corcoran Kennedy - Minister|
|Joe McHugh - Minister||Kate O'Connell - TD|
|Helen McEntee - Minister||Maria Bailey - TD|
|Charlie Flanagan - Minister||Sean Barrett TD|
|Paul Kehoe -Minister||Hildegard Naughton - TD|
|Patrick O'Donovan - Minister||Peter Fitzpatrick - TD|
|Regina Doherty - Minister||Tim Lombard - Senator|
|Mary Mitchell O'Connor - Minister||Jerry Buttimer - Senator|
|Paschal Donohoe - Minister||Paudie Coffey - Senator|
|Heather Humphreys - Minister||James Reilly - Senator|
|Pat Breen - Minister||Colm Burke - Senator|
|Catherine Byrne - Minister||John O'Mahony - Senator|
|Andrew Doyle - Minister||Paul Coghlan - Senator|
|John Paul Phelan - TD||Gabrielle McFadden - Senator|
|Noel Rock - TD||Deirdre Clune - MEP|
|Tony McLoughlin - TD|| |
|Alan Farrell - TD|| |
|Michael D'Arcy - TD|| |
|Tom Neville - TD|| |
|Josepha Madigan - TD|| |
|Pat Deering - TD|| |
|Jim Daly - TD|| |
|Brendan Griffin - TD|| |
|Ciaran Cannon - TD|| |
|Colm Brophy - TD|| |
|Peter Burke - TD|| |
|Fergus O'Dowd - TD|| |
|John Deasy - TD|| |
|Joe Carey - TD|| |
|Neale Richmond - Senator|| |
|Catherine Noone - Senator|| |
|Paddy Burke - Senator|| |
|Martin Conway - Senator|| |
|Michelle Mulherin - Senator|| |
|Maura Hopkins - Senator|| |
|Ray Butler - Senator|| |
|Frank Feighan - Senator|| |
|Maria Byrne - Senator|| |
|Joe O'Reilly - Senator|| |
|Kieran O'Donnell - Senator|| |
|Brian Hayes - MEP|| |
|Enda Kenny - Outgoing Party Leader *||Martin Heydon - Party Chairman *|
|Michael Noonan - Minister||Michael Creed - Minister|
|Bernard Durkan - TD||Sean Kelly - MEP|
|Mairead McGuinness MEP || |
* Outgoing leader Enda Kenny and party chairman Martin Heydon will not make an endorsement
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